Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Date Bars

The recipe for these Date Bars is another one that comes from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house. There is just something about dates and nuts that reminds me of Grandma and her sisters and the old days. This photo is of Grandma and my mom before the wedding of one of Grandma’s brothers. It looks like it must have been about 1947 or so. My mom and her cousin were the flower girls and as usual, they were dressed alike.

The dresses were so pretty and look how cute my mom’s hairdo is! Love it!

I’m telling you – there is just something about the fragrance of dates and nuts baking . . . it almost makes me cry. It smells like Grandma!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Date Bars

Beat until thick:

2 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

Mix in:

2 heaping Tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1 package of chopped dates, floured (I used about 1 tablespoon for this)

3/4 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans but normally I would use walnuts in this)

Fold in:

2 egg whites, beaten

Pour batter into greased 8″ x 8″ pan. (There is no pan size given to use here, so I just guessed at it – something like a 7″ x 11″ would have worked better.)

Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

No time or temp was give, and I thought a slow oven was 325 degrees. I should have researched that a bit first as I have since found that it should have been 300 degrees. I also thought the first ingredients made it seem very dry, so I added an extra egg yolk and egg white. After the bars were baked, that made them VERY tender, and they seemed to fall apart easily. Adding the extra egg wasn’t necessary. I should have known better. Just follow the original recipe.

This is why I thought this needed an extra egg. It said to beat them until thick, but it was very dry.

I used about 1 tablespoon of flour into the chopped dates. Mix them up and they won’t sink to the bottom of the bars.

Here is how dry the batter looked with the dates and nuts mixed in. Next is folding in the egg whites. Everything did mix in just fine.

Before and after baking – the bars rose up and smelled heavenly.

I’m not sure why, but this is what happened after cooling. I maybe could have used a bigger pan, but the bars would have been a bit thin.

These bars are very tasty, even though they were a bit weird to make.

They’re chewy, sticky, and full of dates and nuts. Yum. This recipe is a good old-fashioned one that is fairly easy to make and is absolutely delicious. Try this recipe for Date Bars out on your friends and family – they’ll love it!

 

 

 

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Cherry Cha Cha

Todays recipe for Cherry Cha Cha comes from my other grandma. I think this was another one of her tasty, but quick to make bowling night desserts, a lot like her Layered Pudding Delight that I’ve posted before. I used to love being at Grandma and Gramp’s house on Thursday nights when Gramp went bowling. The ladies would stay at the house of whoever was hosting to gossip and knit or crochet projects to be used for later Christmas gifts or given to lucky grandchildren to wear. When Grandma and Gramp were hosting, Grandma made sure that I always had some needles and a bit of yarn to work on, too. It made me feel like I was a part of the group and I’d sit and listen to the ladies talk and work on my project while they worked on theirs. When the men were done bowling, they’d hurry back to the house for coffee and a tasty dessert made by the hostess, where there would be the roar of laughter and even more talking around the dining room table or in the living room. When I think of it now, it seems like those must have been late nights for those still working. The laughing and the coffee and the desserts seemed to go on all night.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cherry Cha Cha

Combine:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup margarine, melted (I used butter)

3 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Reserve 2 Tablespoons for topping.

Press rest of mixture into an 8″ x 8″ pan (Grandma wrote to put it into an 8″ x 13″ pan, but after putting the crumbs into it, it seemed way too big – I think she meant 8″ x 8″).

Chill.

Whip:

1/2 pint heavy whipping cream

Add:

4 cups miniature marshmallows

Carefully out half of this mixture on top of the chilled crust (I used a large spoon to put dollops on top and the spread it very gently over the top).

Put on top of this:

1 can cherry pie filling

Put on top of this:

the rest of the whipped cream mixture

Carefully spread it over the top of the cherry pie filling.

Top with rest of the graham cracker crumb mixture.

Refrigerate overnight.

Don’t forget to keep out a bit for the topping!

The miniature marshmallows go in looking like marshmallows, but after sitting overnight, they seem to meld into the whipped cream and make those layers firm up.

I used a small offset spatula to spread the layers. You really do have to be careful or you’ll dig into the layer underneath.

This has to be the right size pan – a bigger one would have made the dessert pretty thin.

It’s a pretty rich dessert, which means it’s perfect with a cup of coffee.

While it’s rich and full of whipped cream and pie filling, it still seems like a nice, light dessert. It’s delicious and is such an easy recipe with relatively few ingredients. Call up your group: sports team, friends, family, co-workers and have them over for a nice dessert and a cup of coffee. They’re sure to appreciate your offer of this Cherry Cha Cha with a chance to laugh, talk and gossip!

 

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French Toast

I have been making French Toast since I was in junior high school. When attending a sleepover with a friend, I watched her mom make this for us for breakfast the next morning, and the rest is history. I know people (my kids in particular) will ask for a specific recipe, but I don’t have one. I’m going to share how I make it because that’s how I learned it. That is all.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

French Toast

In a medium size bowl whisk together:

1 egg

a splash of milk (I’d guess it’s about 1/2 cup or so)

a couple of shakes of cinnamon (Maybe 1/2 teaspoon?)

Cut into slices:

1 loaf of French bread, sliced, or good old sliced white bread (like we used back in the day)

Dip the slices of bread into the egg/milk mixture and fry (both sides) on a buttered griddle or fry pan.

If I have a lot of French toast to make, sometimes I just make another batch of the egg/milk mixture to dip more slices of bread in.

You can fry all of the slices and put them into a 350 degree oven on a baking sheet for 20 minutes or until all of your guests are ready so everyone can eat all at once. I tend to make them as needed and then run back and forth from the stove to the table and never get a nice, hot slice of French toast myself. Well, I guess that’s my fault. Come to think of it, that’s really dumb. I’m doing that oven thing next time!

I used a French loaf for this batch, but good old white bread slices are also great. After whisking the egg, in goes the splash of milk.

A couple of shakes of cinnamon and then another whisking and off we go.

Dip into the egg mixture and onto the griddle.

Peek under the slice to make sure it’s brown enough and then give it a flip.

Bonus recipe – baked bacon! I put the bacon slices onto a rack on a sided baking sheet. Bake it at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until it’s as crisp as you like it. You can also cover the baking sheet with foil to make clean up easier, but I usually just like to clean up the pan and leave more foil out of the landfill.

Oh boy. Now that’s a breakfast.

I hadn’t made this for several years and I’d forgotten how amazingly delicious it is. Your family will love to help you make this French Toast – you’re going to end up making this EVERY weekend!

 

 

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Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

The recipe for Sweet Potato Corn Chowder is one that I’ve been making for years. I can see on the bottom of the page (ripped from a magazine) that it was in the Country Cooking 1994 edition. There’s nothing better to make on a cold winter’s (um, I mean April) day than soup. Yes, I mean a cold April day. I made this soup on Saturday, when we were blessed with a rare spring blizzard here in Minnesota, dropping 16″ of lovely new snow on us. Ugh. I just want to sit on the deck, not shovel it!!! Oh well, warmer days are on the way and the snow won’t last long. I hope.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

Saute in a heavy 4 quart saucepan until crisp and brown:

3 ounces slab bacon, chopped (I used 3 slices of regular packaged bacon)

Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add to bacon fat in saucepan:

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup leek, white part only (I used 1 cup of onion and omitted the leek)

1 teaspoon fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves (I didn’t use this)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Saute, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Add:

2 medium (1 pound) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks

1 cup fresh or frozen whole kernel corn (I used some of the sweet corn I froze last summer)

1 (14 1/2 or 13 3/4 ounce) can chicken broth

2 1/2 cups water

Cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Mix:

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Stir into soup mixture.

Heat soup to boiling, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened.

Reduce heat to low and stir in:

1/2 cup heavy cream

reserved bacon

Heat just until bubbles appear at the sides of the pan.

Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs, if desired.

After frying the bacon, remove it but leave the fat in the saucepan. In go the first round of vegetables.

Here is round two – everything but the cream and bacon.

I saw somewhere, years ago, that the best way to mix cornstarch and water is to do it with your finger so you can feel that it is, indeed,  mixed.

Here we are after the cream and bacon has been added.

Serve this with a loaf of crusty bread, and maybe a salad, and you have a delicious lunch or light dinner.

My family loves this warm and comforting soup. If there are any more snow days, make this for your family and see if it doesn’t make having to wait just a bit longer for warmer weather more tolerable. They’re going to love this Sweet Potato Corn Chowder as much as we do!

 

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Dilly Bread

While perusing another of Grandma’s old church cookbooks one day, I happened upon this delicious sounding recipe for Dilly Bread. It’s fairly simple to do with only one rising – easy to do and pretty quick to make and serve with a soup or pasta. The fragrance of the dill and onion wafted through the house while it was baking, making me want to whip up a batch of Potato Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup With Vegetables pronto. But no. I waited. I cut a couple of slices for the photos, snitched the little end piece I cut off, and got this bread into the freezer as fast as I could. I’ll bring it out sometime when I don’t have the time and want a quick dinner – soup with this delicious bread.

My gosh but this bread is tasty!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Dilly Bread

Dissolve:

1 package yeast in 1/4 cup warm water

Combine in bowl:

2 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons dried minced onion

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

2 teaspoons dill seed (I used dill weed)

1 cup cottage cheese, warmed (I used the microwave for this)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 unbeaten egg

Add enough to form a stiff dough:

2 1/4 cups flour (I used 2 cups and kept the 1/4 cup for kneading)

Cover and let rise until double.

Knead down and put in 8 inch well-greased casserole.

Let rise, or shape into small buns (I totally missed this second rising and the loaf turned out beautifully anyway!)

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

While warm, brush loaf with butter and sprinkle with salt (I used kosher salt for this).

You can see that the dough really does almost double in size during the first rising. I put plastic wrap over it so it doesn’t dry out.

Just a little knead to bring it all together and make it pretty – that’s all it needs. Ha.

I put the dough into this square casserole (here’s where I didn’t see that there was supposed to be a second rising) and it baked up into a nice, round loaf.

Here is the beautiful, round loaf with its yummy butter and salt topping.

You can tell that I’m not totally back to my usual self yet – notice the other camera in the (left)background.

This bread is so tasty and absolutely delicious, you’ll want to make this every week! The recipe made a beautiful loaf (with the somewhat unusual ingredient of cottage cheese) that smells amazing and I can’t wait to eat it! Trust me – your family if going to love this Dilly Bread.

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Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies #2

Look at this recipe for Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies #2. I can’t believe it happened again! I’ve made this recipe before! Ugh! This makes two in a row! It was so exciting to find a recipe written in Grandma’s oldest sister’s handwriting – we don’t have a lot of them. After what happened in my last post where I made the same coffee cake twice, I thought I’d better check and see if I had made these before. It happened again!!! I DID make these before, but they were in another sister’s handwriting! Grandma and her sisters definitely shared recipes on a regular (if not daily) basis. Oh well, I had already made the cookies, so I’m putting the recipe on here again anyway. The last time I posted the recipe for Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies was 3 years ago.

As long as we’re talking about a recipe from Grandma’s oldest sister, I just had to share this photo of her with one of their aunts. Grandma’s sister is the baby.

She’s such a cutie! I love all of the white fabric and lace. I remember Grandma saying their mother made all of their clothes, so I’m sure she made this beautiful dress for her first-born daughter.

On to the recipe.

I’m glad I made these twice – they’re so delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies #2

Cream together:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup lard (I used all butter here)

Add:

2 cups sugar

Add one at a time:

2 eggs

Beat well after each is added.

Add:

3 squares melted chocolate

2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend.

Sift together:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

Add to mixture.

Mix in:

3 cups oatmeal

1 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts)

Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

I used my trusty scoop to make these and I got just over 4 dozen cookies out of this batch.

They’re so evenly sized and pretty!

I’m not sorry I made these a second time. They’re full of oats and chocolate and they’re delicious. This is another cookie perfect with afternoon coffee. Or tea. Or hot chocolate. Your family will love it when you try these very chocolatey Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies.

 

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Coffee Cake #2

This recipe for Coffee Cake #2 (Coffee Cake#2 because there is already a recipe on Plenty Sweet Life named Coffee Cake) comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and when I read through it, it seemed a bit familiar. This card is written in Grandma’s sister’s handwriting, and looking back at the coffee cakes I’ve made for Plenty Sweet Life, I found that I’ve already made this and the recipe was in GRANDMA’S handwriting, although named something different. The funny thing is, they didn’t get it from each other – the two sisters had the same recipe and they got it from two different people! Well, I don’t care who had it first, I’m glad that they both had it and that I’ve found out how good it is. It was called Overnight Crunch Coffee Cake when I made it the first time from Grandma’s recipe card, and I’m going to leave this post on here and let you enjoy it again. The first time I made it, I did let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. It looks a little different, but I’m sure they are equally delicious. The recipe seemed familiar, but it looks like I first made it 4 years ago and since I try not to do these recipes twice (there are a LOT of recipes to get thru), I haven’t made it since then. I’ve made several kinds of coffee cakes on Plenty Sweet Life, but I have to say, seriously, this one might be one of my favorites. One of my MANY favorites.

This coffee cake is just so good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Coffee Cake

Mix all together:

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup shortening (I used butter)

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

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

Pour batter into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

The recipe says it can be refrigerated overnight – I didn’t do it that way this time – but if you want to see what it looked like when I put it into the refrigerator overnight, check it out here.

It makes a bit of a thick batter, so it takes some spreading with a spatula.

The topping really makes it!

It came out so pretty and the house smelled amazing while it was baking.

Yep – one of my new favorites.

Here is ANOTHER very easy, very fast, and very delicious recipe that you can even make the night before. No doubt about it – this coffee cake goes VERY well with coffee. Call up some friends (or your sisters), have them over this afternoon (or this weekend), and enjoy this tasty Coffee Cake #2!

 

 

 

 

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Plaza Dip for Chips

Today’s recipe for Plaza Dip for Chips is another one from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. I had never heard of this dip before, so I did a little research online and found that this was quite popular in the 1950’s. Huh. Who knew?! At any rate, spring is coming, and with spring comes family gatherings, graduations, weddings, and cabin openings. This dip makes a big batch, is easy to pull together and is easy to take anywhere.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Plaza Dip for Chips

Blend together:

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 Tablespoons horseradish (this seemed like too much – next time I’d start with 1 T. and add more to taste)

2 Tablespoons anchovy paste

2 Tablespoons chili sauce

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Chill a few hours or overnight.

This dip is full of pretty ingredients . . .

. . . but when it’s mixed up, not so pretty.

This is perfect for any gathering or party – it makes a pretty big batch of dip. Bring on the chips!

My family generally liked this dip, but I do recommend dialing back on the horseradish. Those in the family who like spicy things, liked it with a lot of horseradish. Those in the family who DON’T like spicy things – not so much. It seemed like that’s all we could taste – the horseradish. Try cutting back on that and let me know what you think when you try this delicious Plaza Dip for Chips!

 

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Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Easter is very early this year, but spring is dragging her feet here in Minnesota!

We need a little springtime cheer, so I’m sending you a little flower to brighten your day!

I hope where ever you live, the snow is melting and the temperatures are rising!

Thank you for stopping – I appreciate all of you!

I wish each and every one of you, dear readers, a very Happy Easter and a very Happy Spring!

 

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