Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Tiny Meatballs

This recipe for Tiny Meatballs comes from the early 1980’s. I got this from one of my sisters-in-law when I first started dating my now husband. It uses the funny “classic ingredients” of grape jelly and chili sauce. This was another recipe that I had lost, but when looking through my mom’s recipes, she still had it. This is an oldie but a goodie (totally going under the “Retro Oddities” category), and is perfect for your New Year’s Eve party. How much easier can we make it? You just put the meatballs into the sauce in a slow cooker! Yes! At this time of year, we’re tired of making holiday treats and just want something EASY to do. It can’t hurt if it’s ridiculously delicious at the same time!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tiny Meatballs


2 pounds extra lean ground beef

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 teaspoon salt

Shape in tiny balls, about the size of a walnut (or even smaller).

Combine in a skillet:

1-18 ounce jar grape jelly

1-12 ounce jar chili sauce

2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Heat until smooth.

Add meatballs and simmer 1 hour.

The sauce is just 3 simple ingredients: grape jelly, chili sauce, and lemon juice. I put the ingredients right into my cast iron pan. I didn’t try these in the slow cooker, but if you’re going to do that, maybe do it in the morning for an evening party. It’s so easy to do, it might be just as easy to make them in a skillet and then just keep them warm in a slow cooker.

Meatballs are simple, too, just beef, egg, salt, and onion.

When making small meatballs, you need the onion to be chopped small. I could have chopped the onion smaller. Of course, as usual, I also made the balls bigger than they should have been. I got 34 balls and the card says that it makes between 50-60. I guess make them half this size?

The smell of these meatballs cooking? Oh. Em. Gee. Whoa. Amazing.

Delish. These meatballs are a great addition to your hors d’oeuvre or appetizer repertoire. See how I used the fancy pants French words there? I had to ask my daughter (who has some high school French) how to spell those. These were made ahead of time and then I put them into the freezer to have later – that’s when I put them in a slow-cooker to warm up. It worked perfectly. This recipe is so retro and so easy and so good. You really should try a batch of these Tiny Meatballs for your New Year’s Party or maybe even your Super Bowl party – and don’t forget the toothpicks!



Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, dear readers!

I hope you enjoy this photo of my mom’s Sunday school Christmas program from sometime in the 1950’s. She’s on the left (it looks like she must have been a reader or narrator) and I think her little brother is second from the right (playing one of the 3 wise men). I love everything about this one – it’s a classic. Some things never change!

I wish you joy, love, peace, and the happiest of holidays!



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Monster Mix

My mom got this recipe for Monster Mix from a friend of hers years ago, I got it from my mom, and I’ve been making it ever since. She happened to see this friend of hers at the grocery store, her friend told her why she was there (to make this snack mix), and my mom asked her for the recipe and quickly wrote it down. I’m not sure if Monster Mix is its official name, or if my mom’s friend called it that because of the size of the batch it makes. It makes a HUGE batch. It’s great for a crowd, which makes it perfect for holidays like thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or any other party. It’s also quite addictive, which makes it rough when you have to share, and you really should share. It makes a huge batch for a reason – people just can’t stop eating this stuff. Every time I suggest making it, everybody just groans. Not because they don’t want me to make it, but because they can’t stop eating it when I do make it. It’s very good and it’s very delicious and it’s very addictive. Watch out! You’ve been warned!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Monster Mix

Pour into a large garbage bag (do I really have to mention that this should be an UNSCENTED garbage bag?):

1 large box Crispix

4 cups Quaker Oats Squares (I used the whole box since I only used 1 can of nuts and 1 bag of cheese curls)

2 large bags cheese curls (I just used one bag)

1 package pretzel sticks

1/2 box Honey Nut Cheerios (since I only used 1 bag of cheese curls and 1 can of nuts, I used the whole box)

1 package oyster crackers

2 cans mixed nuts or peanuts (I just used one can of peanuts)

1 package Bugles


1 cup Orville Redenbacher popcorn oil (the bright orange kind)

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Pour oil mixture over dry ingredients in garbage bag.

Roll bag around (gently)to coat all the dry ingredients.

Store in tight containers (makes 3 ice cream pails full).

While there are a lot of ingredients for this snack mix, the oil and flavorings are simple yet delicious.

Give the oil and flavorings a mix just before adding it to the dry ingredients

It seems weird, but just go ahead and put everything into that UNSCENTED garbage bag.

Be careful when rolling the bag around to coat the dry ingredients, or you’ll have the same problem I had. Luckily I was almost done rolling the bag around when the hole happened.

I just cut the top of the bag off with a scissors and dumped the mix into the largest container I had. Since the container in the photo was overflowing (you can clearly see that the container wasn’t quite big enough) so I had to put some of it on a baking sheet momentarily.

I sent some of this snack mix to my nephew at college (finals were happening) so the mix did all eventually fit into my big container. You might have to use several containers to hold it all. The recipe did say to use 3 ice cream pails to store it.

I think I did warn you that this snack mix is addictive. So good. So addictive. It’s a good thing that this recipe makes a HUGE batch. So good. Did I mention it’s addictive? I think I did. If I didn’t – it’s addictive. I just want to make sure you understand this stuff. You’ll want this at your next party of get together – if you want to share it. You might not want to. You really should. Trust me, it’s seriously hard to stop once you’ve had a taste of the sweet and salty-ness of this amazingly delicious Monster Mix.



Thimble Cookies

Today’s recipe for Thimble Cookies comes from my other grandma. She had written it into one of her old church cookbooks, so I’m thinking it must be a good one. Thimble cookies seems like a strange name, so I had to research the internet and see if they are a “thing”. Turns out they can go a couple of different ways. One way is to use your thimble to cut out the cookies after rolling out the dough. Excuse me. That would make really tiny cookies. Who wants that? I’m not going to go through the trouble of making rolled out cookies and make them tiny and then people (I’m thinking of my husband here) would just pop them into their mouths by the handful like a snack and they’d be gone in no time. No, sir and no thank you. The second way I found was to make an indent in the cookie for putting a cherry or a nut or jam in the middle of the cookie (I assume you’d technically use the thimble to make the indent). This makes more sense to me. It seems to be that this is the forerunner to Thumbprint Cookies. Maybe someone used a thimble to make the hole to hold the jam back in the day, but now people just use their thumb to do it. For those of you who don’t know what a thimble is, it’s a metal cup that fits on the tip of one of your fingers so you can push a needle through fabric without hurting your fingertip – you know, when you’re darning your socks or something. For those of you who don’t know what darning your socks means, it’s when you use a needle and thread to sew up holes in your socks. For those of you who don’t know what a needle and thread are . . . oh forget it. Anyway, I’m excited to try this cookie. I don’t remember Grandma ever making these, but she must have had them somewhere and liked them or she wouldn’t have written it down.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Thimble Cookies

Mix together:

1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoon vanilla

Roll in balls, dip in unbeaten egg white.

Roll ball in:

1 cup very finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Make impression in center (with the thimble? I used my thumb).

Bake at 360 degrees for 5 minutes (not 350 degrees – 360 degrees – that’s what she wrote).

Fill hole with cherry or nut and bake 12 minutes more.

I made the balls a little smaller than a walnut, but I would make them half that size next time. They ended up bigger than I thought they’d be. Surprise – I made the cookies bigger than they’re supposed to be! Imagine that.

I basically set up a dipping and rolling station. Roll the balls (do a few at a time cuz your fingers get messy), dip them in the egg white, and roll them in the very finely chopped nuts (I didn’t chop the nuts finely enough, either). Then onto the baking sheet. For some reason, I couldn’t find my thimbles ( I do have several), so I used my thumb to make the indentations in the cookies.

After the first 5 minutes, they come back out of the oven to fill the holes.

I used cherry halves because I thought a whole cherry wasn’t necessary. Next time I’d use a whole cherry. I seriously don’t know why I think I know better than the grandmas. Just follow the recipe.

Even though the cookies are probably bigger than they’re supposed to be, they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I’m not even kidding about that melt-in-your-mouth thing. They’re so festive and pretty, too, and they’ll look spectacularly beautiful on the cookie plate. This may be a new cookie that I make every year. Thanks to my other grandma, you, too can make use of your thimble and make these Thimble Cookies!


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Moravian White Christmas Cookies

Today’s recipe for Moravian White Christmas Cookies is a recipe that Grandma must have found it in a newspaper somewhere. I’m sure glad she found it, and I’m sure glad she kept it. As you can see, she marked it “very, very good”. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know what that means. It’s good, and I mean good. She has marked things “v good” or “very good” along the way, but I can’t remember any recipe that she marked “very, very good”, so I’m excited to see exactly HOW good these are. Making an actual recipe that Grandma kept makes me very nostalgic for the old days. While making these cookies, I kept remembering Christmases from my childhood. Until I was 8, we lived in a town that still had a downtown with all the shops and stores up and down the streets. There were Christmas decorations and lights hanging across the streets, evergreen roping, lights, and decorations in every shop window, bells ringing from the people manning the red kettles on every corner, and groups of carolers were singing Christmas music all around town. Specifically, I’m remembering going shopping with my dad for my mom’s presents, and we usually went to a dress shop that had things she liked and wanted. It was very fancy, and I remember one year we got perfume (among other things), but what I remember most was the fun of going with my dad – just the two of us. It was evening, and it was snowing big, huge, billowy white flakes, the big colored Christmas lights were glowing all over town, the Christmas music surrounded us from everywhere, and we were buying my mom’s seemingly magical Christmas presents. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite part of the whole night was watching the saleslady wrap all the presents for us to take home. Yes, they wrapped your presents for free back then  – how great was that?!! They were so glamorous because they came from the dress shop, and it was very fancy – beautiful metallic wrapping paper with a big puffy bow. I have to say, I don’t remember my mom opening those presents, but I sure do remember going shopping with my dad. I miss those days – those are precious memories.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Moravian White Christmas Cookies

Cream thoroughly:

1 cup butter or margarine (I used butter)

2 cups sugar

Add one at a time:

4 eggs

Beat well after each addition.

Sift together:

4 cups sifted flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Gradually add to creamed mixture, blending after each addition.

Chill (I chilled the dough about an hour).

Roll dough, a little at a time, on a well-floured surface to about 1/8″ thickness.

Cut into desired shapes.

Place on greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12minutes or until lightly browned.

Icing (from my old red Betty Crocker Cookbook – this is doubled):

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 Tablespoons half-n-half (I used whole milk)

Mix until smooth and of spreading consistency or right consistency for piping.

Frost cookies and sprinkle on colored sugars or sprinkles.

Let dry before packing into air tight container.

I love the cinnamon and nutmeg in this cookie dough. That’s unusual and a little bit different.

To chill the dough, I wrap it in plastic wrap and make it into a flat round. That makes it easier to cut sections and roll out after chilling.

I cut the chilled rounds into four sections and roll out one at a time.

After baking, the cookies are ready to frost. You could sprinkle them with colored sugar before baking – no need to frost then. We decided long ago (as a family) that there is really no point to that. We like them frosted. The more frosting, the better.

I haven’t frosted cookies myself for years. It’s a thing the whole family likes to do together, but this year I was stuck with doing it myself. I couldn’t participate last year because I was sick, so this year I’m taking my turn. I wouldn’t complain except that my strength isn’t quite back up to speed yet and man, it wore me out!

These cookies are delicious. That little bit of spice makes all the difference. For some reason, they even seem sweeter than our regular recipe. Maybe it’s the spice, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, Grandma was right, as usual. We know by now to never question Grandma’s notes on the recipes or even the recipes themselves. With very few exceptions, they’ve all been, at the very least, “V Good”! You might want to try these Moravian White Christmas Cookies and try something just a little bit different.

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Fruit Cookies

This recipe for Fruit Cookies was one of Grandma’s favorite Christmas cookies. She loved fruitcake, and while she did make some tasty Fruitcake, I think these cookies were easier than making the cake. The recipe takes a lot of chopping, which takes awhile, but it’s worth it. They’re so sweet and chewy and full of fruit and nuts – oh my. The smell of these cookies baking brought me right back to Grandma’s kitchen. Her little kitchen on the farm was never so busy as this time of year. There were always lots of different Christmas cookies, cakes, candies, and treats of all kinds. She’d get on her apron, open up the big drawer/bin that held a 20 pound bag of flour (I kid you not – the bin was right in the kitchen as part of the kitchen cupboards), and get to work. I love how her recipes handed down can bring us back together even though she’s gone. I can almost hear her funny little laugh, and it’s like having her right back here in my kitchen with me making Christmas goodies, snitching a taste here and there, and telling stories of growing up in her big family!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fruit Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup butter (Grandma used margarine – I do not)

1 1/4 cup brown sugar


2 eggs, beaten

Sift together:

2 1/4 cups flour (save some for mixing in with fruit – I used 1/4 cup for that)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix with the creamed mixture.

Cut in small pieces, mix with the saved 1/4 cup flour, and fold in:

1 1/2 pound dates

4 slices candied pineapple

1/2 pound candied cherries

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

Bake at 375 degrees (Grandma said to judge for yourself how long to bake them) for 12-15 minutes (in my oven) or until cookies are golden brown.

There are a lot of fruit and nuts in these cookies! Get your chopping skills ready!

Once again I used my trusty scoop to make the cookies all a similar size.

You can see how full of fruit and nuts they are here.

They come out of the oven all caramel-y and brown sugar-y!

These are a very chewy, very fruity, very tasty cookie. They do kind of taste like fruitcake, only BETTER! I know that these were Grandma’s favorite, and while they were baking, it smelled just like Grandma’s kitchen in my kitchen. Even if you don’t like Fruitcake, you’ll love these delicious Fruit Cookies.

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Hot Cider or Wassail

This recipe for Hot Cider or Wassail comes from my mom, and it’s one we’ve been making in our family since the 1970’s (you can tell because it has Tang in it – you know, the drink of the astronauts). It’s a very simple, but very delicious recipe for everybody’s favorite holiday hot beverage. I made another type of Wassail a few years ago, but the recipe is a bit more involved. This one is easy. Very easy. You can go outside and play in the snow and have this ready to heat up once you get back indoors and need some warming up. This smells so good while it’s heating up – you really should make this just for the potpourri factor, but you’re really going to love how tasty this is.

While this photo of me when I was 4 years old isn’t from the 1970’s when we started making this cider recipe, it was taken in the 1960’s. It is a fun Christmas photo – I LOVE the tree. They obviously didn’t prune the Christmas trees then the way they do now to make the perfect shape, and it was hardly taller than me!

My mom really liked the trees with the long needles. I did not, and we had them every year. It made ornament hanging very difficult and the needles always poked you! I would end up with red dots (that almost looked like hives) all over my hands – and they itched! That may be why you don’t see them around any more. It was seriously painful to decorate the tree! At any rate, I look very happy holding that beautifully wrapped package. I wonder what was inside . . .

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Cider or Wassail

Combine all in a large saucepan:

1 1/2 quarts apple cider

1 1/2 quarts water

1 cup Tang

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat for about 15 minutes.

Seriously, this could not be an easier recipe. This is it.

The ground spices look funny at first, but they assimilate pretty easily into the cider once it gets warm.

You can add some sliced oranges or lemons if you want to. Maybe stud them with a few whole cloves? That just might make it smell even better!

This is such a ridiculously easy and delicious recipe, I can’t even tell you. You may want this for the holidays, or for any day during the winter, say one in which you’re sledding or skating or skiing or walking in the snow or making snow angels or snowmobiling or  . . . you get the picture. It’s worth it to have a jar of Tang on hand for just such an occasion. Any occasion on which you want a nice, easy, delicious warm-up that tastes great and smells even better! Try this Hot Cider or Wassail and your friends and family will love you for it!


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12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – All in One Place

Today we’re going enjoy the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – All in One Place. I wanted to have these Scandinavian ideas and family traditions all in one place – then you don’t have to go all over the blog to find all of these great Scandinavian holiday ideas. So let’s revisit 2016, shall we? This is so much fun all packed into one post, and no lutefisk in sight! I hope you find something new to try that will become part of your Christmas celebrations, too!

Day 1

Swedish Cardamom Bread


Day 2

Spritz Cookies


Day 3

Norwegian Mittens and Mitten Ornaments


Day 4



Day 5



Day 6

Cinnamon Ornaments


Day 7

Lefse #3


Day 8

Stamped Giftwrap


Day 9



Day 10

Swedish Sausage


Day 11

Ice Lantern


Day 12





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