Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

A Little Breath of Springtime!

This is an unscheduled post today, because we all need A Little Breath of Springtime. I have had it with the snow and ice and below zero temperatures, and I need a little springtime. I’m gonna go ahead and assume that most of you feel the same. We’ve just endured (and still have on the ground with more to come) more than 33 inches of snow here in Minnesota during the month of February (an all-time record for the month). Spring IS coming. I promise. Just for you, here is A Little Breath of Springtime!

Hang in there!

Breathe. Relax. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oatmeal Bread

Today’s recipe comes from my mom, and it makes a large batch of Oatmeal Bread. This recipe says it makes 4 loaves, and since that seems to be basically double the usual batch of homemade bread, I knew it was gonna be big. I didn’t think I could use my big mixer since this was a huge batch. I decided to do the whole thing by hand. Enter the hubs. I’m not quite up to speed yet since my bout of pancreatitis last year (I’m getting there – slow, but sure!) and I knew I’d probably “knead” some help. (Ha! See what I did there?) Well, he used to work in a bakery back in the day, so I enlisted his help with the kneading. I got it all mixed up and then he washed up and started kneading while I was taking the beauty shots. Pretty soon he looks up and takes a deep breath, “gotta take a break”. Ha! Rust never sleeps! I asked if he’d like me to take a turn, and he gladly handed over the kneading duties. I finished it off from there, and he kneading the second go round. Just when you think you’re all in shape and stuff, you find out that there’s a reason why we’re so glad we have a big mixer now and don’t “knead” to do this by hand anymore. What a workout! But it was sooooo worth it! This bread is really tasty!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Oatmeal Bread

Mix together in a large bowl:

3 cups quick oatmeal

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)

2 Tablespoons salt

Pour over top:

5 cups boiling water

Let stand until lukewarm.

Add:

2 packages granulated yeast (or 1 cake compressed yeast) dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

13-15 cups flour

Knead.

Let rise until it’s twice original size.

Knead.

Let it rise again.

Form into loaves and let it rise again.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Makes 4 loaves.

I knew I’d need a big bowl for this, so I used the biggest container I have. It has a lid, too, so when it’s ready to rise, just snap on the lid and let it rise. I just put all the ingredients into this big container and mixed the dough in there. When we started kneading, I washed out the container and it was ready for rising.

It worked ok to put the boiling water right in there with the ingredients. I mixed it up and the heat of the water melted the butter.

My husband suggested mixing in 2-3 cups of flour first and then adding the yeast dissolved in the water. Sounded good to me. The recipe calls for 13-15 cups of flour, but we thought it was good after 11 cups. The dough wasn’t sticky anymore and if you add too much flour, the dough won’t be as tender.

Here is the huge ball of dough after adding the flour. Ready to knead. Knead it until it’s smooth and the dough bounces back when you poke your finger in.

I just put the dough back into the container – now to rise until double in size – about an hour.

Dump it back out and you’re ready to knead again. Not as long this time.

Back into the container to rise again. This is how it looks after the first rising and it’s doubled in size.

Then my ex-bakery worker husband made the loaves bakery style. Instead of making 4 loaves, we made three big loaves and four small ones for giving to mothers and adult kids living on their own.

Let them rise in the pans and then they go into the oven.

Beautiful. Delicious. Perfection.

While this does make a big batch of bread, it’s so totally worth the work. The bread is delicious and slices beautifully. We were even able to make toast with it! Roll up your sleeves, get ready for a workout, make a batch of this delicious Oatmeal Bread and see how easy and satisfying it is to make your own bread!

 

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Monster Cookies

This recipe for Monster Cookies comes from Grandma’s church cookbook, and it was submitted by her youngest sister with the tagline that tells that the recipe came from one of their cousins! Aside from the fact that these cookies are amazingly good (and are therefore one of my new favorites – AGAIN), I like that they make a smaller batch than what I’ve seen before. I had some friends in high school who made Monster Cookies when our church sent a group backpacking in the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming. Those cookies were really good, too, and they gave me the recipe. I’ve never made them because these friends of mine were big burly guys, and this recipe uses a LOT of stuff and makes a BIG batch. I mean, hard to stir big. After making this smaller batch, and they’re SO GOOD, I might have to re-think my options with that other Monster Cookie recipe. If I do try it – you’ll be the first to know! Anyhoo – back to THIS recipe!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Monster Cookies

Cream:

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened (I used butter)

Gradually add:

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 cup sugar

Beat well.

Add:

3 eggs

2 cups peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

Beat well.

Mix in:

4 1/2 cups oatmeal

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Mixture will be stiff.

Stir in:

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup chocolate chips

Pack dough into a 1/4 cup measure and drop 4 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Press each cookie lightly into a 3 1/2 inch circle.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes (centers will be slightly soft).

Let set on baking sheet until warm.

Remove to racks to cool completely.

Makes about 30 cookies (I got 21 out of this recipe).

The dough is definitely stiff when all the ingredients are in there!

Use a 1/4 cup measure to make the dough balls, then use your palm to press the dough into circles. I didn’t worry about whether or not they were 3 1/2″ around.

Gotta have them with a glass of milk. Yum.

These cookies are ridiculously delicious, and like I said – they’re my new favorite! They are big when you make them this way, but they would be good as smaller cookies, too. But who would do that? Just make them monster size. Why not? Kids would love to make these and they would love to eat these. Well, adults would love to make these and love to eat these. Who are we kidding? Seriously, it’s a good thing this recipe doesn’t make a very big batch. I have a problem with these Monster Cookies – you’ll love them, too!

 

 

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Pillsbury Pull Aparts

This recipe for Pillsbury Pull-Aparts comes from my mom, and is a lot like the recipe for Coffee Ring that came from one of our neighbors at the lake when I was growing up. I love the idea of having recipes that you can pull out at a moment’s notice. This is one of those recipes. You can just keep the Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits in your frig – the rest of the ingredients are things we all have in our kitchens. When unexpected company shows up – whip out this recipe and make up a batch of these amazingly delicious rolls – perfect for breakfast or your afternoon coffee. Also – I might add – that these are addictive. You can’t eat just one, and your company won’t want to eat just one, either!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pillsbury Pull-Aparts

Melt in a saucepan:

1 stick margarine (I used butter)

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons Milk

1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour half of mixture into bottom of greased Bundt pan.

Lay in:

3 cans of Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits as they come from can (I think they make the cans with more (or bigger) biscuits now than they used to, or they’re bigger than they used to be – I’d cut back to 2 1/2 cans next time so the biscuits are sure to get baked through)

Sprinkle on:

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

Pour rest of brown sugar mixture over rolls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Turn out of pan immediately onto plate.

This recipe is great for last-minute guests. You can have all of these ingredients in your frig and cupboard – ready to go!

I mean come on – Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits are just plain fun and delicious.

You can see that 3 cans made the pan very full. I think using 2 1/2 cans next time would make them fit better and bake more thoroughly. They weren’t baked through as well as I would have liked and were just a bit doughy in the middle.

After they were baked, you can see how full the pan was.

Time for afternoon coffee! I used two forks to get the rolls apart and onto the plates. Hey – how did I happen to get my gorgeous Amaryllis in the shot? See how I worked that in there? Ha!

Oh. Em. Gee. These rolls are so gooey and so good and so easy to do. Seriously. Keep these ingredients on hand and be ready pretty darn quick for any last-minute company that happens to stop in – OR – you could go ahead and invite your neighbors or besties over for an afternoon coffee and treat! You’d better try this for yourself FIRST – so you can have some – and THEN invite some people over – cuz then you’re gonna be a great host or hostess and let the guests have these and not have any for yourself. Again – seriously – try these Pillsbury Pull-Aparts, and you’ll be inviting people over all the time!

 

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Chicken Hotdish

We’re making Chicken Hotdish today. There has just been too much snow (almost 20″ the last week and a half), and it’s been too cold, and we’ve just had too much winter. We need some good old comfort food. I have made several recipes for hotdishes on Plenty Sweet Life, like Baked Chicken Salad Casserole, Turkey Hotdish, Gwen’s Good Hotdish, and Chicken Supreme. They’re all really good and great comfort food, but this one is a great comfort food dish, for me anyway. The smell of this baking in the oven just brought me right back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house when I was a kid. This is totally one of those recipes that Grandma would have loved and would have made a lot. It’s funny now these recipes are so simple, so easy, so good, and so bring those memories right to the forefront of my mind. This recipe came from my mom, and while I don’t know who she got it from, it’s totally a Grandma recipe. Everything about this one brings me right back to those days of winters past and dinner with Grandma and Grandpa and the family – the smell, the taste, the texture of it, the ingredients used in it, the fact that it’s a HOTDISH – ‘nuf said. There’s just nothing better – this recipe is total love in a dish. A hotdish, that is!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chicken Hotdish

Mix together:

1 or 2 cup chicken, cut into 1/2″ pieces (I used more like 3-4 cups since I used the whole can of cream of celery soup)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 can cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup (I used the whole can – what are we supposed to do with a half can?)

1/2 can milk

1 cup celery, cooked in 1 tablespoon butter until softened

Pour mixture into a casserole dish.

Top with:

2 cups chow mein noodles (I used the whole small bag)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Such simple ingredients, so simple to do, and so simply good!

This hotdish is such an easy dish to pull together for a quick weeknight dinner, or having company on the weekend. Everyone will love this one!

I don’t think you can ever have too many Chinese noodles, so I just used the whole bag.

The hotdish gets hot and creamy and the soups make it so comforting. I absolutely love the toasty Chinese noodles, too!

All this hotdish needs is a splash of soy sauce, and there you go. Total comfort in a dish. Total love in a dish. You seriously need to make this hotdish THIS WEEKEND! Guess what – we’ve had almost 20″ of snow here near Minneapolis this week – we need comfort food! Go ahead and make this Chicken Hotdish NOW and whip up some comfort and love for your friends and family!

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers!

 

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Brownies #3

Today I’m sharing a recipe for Brownies #3 that comes from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house. The #3 connotation is simply because there have been that many brownie recipes in Grandma’s file, and while there have also been many with other names, this is the third one simply named “brownies”. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and what’s the best treat for that special day? Chocolate. Plain and simple. There’s nothing better, in my opinion. This is the same recipe, basically, as the original recipe I made for Brownies from my mom. She probably got her recipe from this tiny book, or at least from the person who donated the recipe to that tiny book. We all know that my mom is a chocolate freak, and unfortunately she passed on this gene to the rest of us in the family (I’m just gonna go ahead and blame that on her). I adored the smell of brownies baking (most Saturdays) while growing up, and for some reason, the smell of brownies always makes me feel loved. Therefore, it makes sense that brownies is what I wanted to make for my valentine.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Brownies #3

Sift together:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

Add:

1/2 cup shortening (I used softened butter)

2 eggs, unbeaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Fold in:

1 square unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled for just a bit

1 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts)

Pour batter into greased 9″ x 9″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

This recipe uses ingredients that any baker will most likely have in their kitchen cupboard. That means that any time you have a hankerin’ for chocolate, you can make these really easy brownies. Trust me, they’re very satisfying.

I decided to use my heart-shaped pan to make these brownies for my valentine. I let it bake for about 20 minutes, then took it out of the oven and put on the sprinkles. Any sooner than that and they sink to the bottom and you can’t see how pretty they are. Back into the oven for at least another 10 minutes.

It actually took about 45 minutes to bake in this pan – it was probably more full than a square pan would be. So – it’s confession time. I wanted to get this out of the pan and freeze it for use on Valentine’s Day. Nope. I tried to get it to come out of the pan and it wouldn’t. It started to break, and I don’t know if you can really see it here, but it cracked right down the middle and only half started to come out. I immediately flipped it back over and just left it in the pan. On to “Plan B”, as one of my friends likes to say.

Here’s what I came up with. Luckily – and I kid you not, here – I had raspberry sherbet in the freezer from making Salad #9, so what goes better with chocolate than raspberry? (BTW – I was making this on a Saturday afternoon and my valentine happened to be home. Whew! We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day RIGHT NOW!) I suppose I could have put the whole pan into the freezer until Valentine’s Day, but instead I made the executive decision to enjoy this treat right away. I scooped up the raspberry sherbet and put it in the middle of the brownie pan. Next, on went the obligatory (in our frig, anyway) canned whipped topping and chocolate sauce. More sprinkles over the top of the whole thing and voila! Happy Valentine’s Day!

I mean, seriously, Happy Valentine’s Day to us! We grabbed two spoons, sat right down, and enjoyed this warm brownie with the cold sherbet, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and sprinkles. Right there in the middle of a Saturday afternoon in January! I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a valentine treat more!

Let me tell ya, we did quite a number on it, too. We did save just a little bit for another time, but we sure did work it over. It was absolutely delicious! Sometimes the best laid plans . . .  Well, I’m sure glad I was able to think fast and go on to “Plan B”. It was a great decision. I highly recommend the raspberry sherbet instead of vanilla ice cream, but that would also be delicious. So, the bottom line here – if you want a valentine treat that your valentine will LOVE – make Brownies #3 and add the goodies on top!

 

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Valentine Meringues

Today’s recipe for Valentine Meringues is a twist on a recipe for Brown Sugar Meringues that I made about a year ago. This time, instead of using brown sugar in them, I’m making them with all white sugar. The flavor is a little different, and they look a little different, but they’re just as delicious as the brown sugar variety. I made these festive for Valentine’s Day, and I think they’d make a pretty gift for your special valentine. Speaking of special valentines, I had to share this photo of my two favorite valentines, my mom and dad. My dad is in his Matt Damon/James Dean phase here, and my mom has a very cute and stylish Audrey Hepburn type haircut.

They were probably seniors in high school here, and were already dating. The photo says “Thanksgiving”, and that would have been November of 1957. They were always “mushy” with each other. My dad would make my mom dance in the kitchen when we were growing up, and he would sing to her or come up behind her and give her a big smooch (she pretended she was bothered, but she loved it). He would even remember the date their first date and be sure to let her knew that he remembered! They started dating in the 1950’s and I think these meringues look like they could have been from the 1950’s – they’re in the shape of roses, and the sprinkles make them look a bit pink.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Valentine Meringues

Beat in a medium bowl until soft peaks form:

4 egg whites

Gradually beat in  until soft and glossy:

1 cup sugar (instead of using half brown sugar, like in the original recipe)

Add:

1 teaspoon vanilla (this was my own addition – it’s not in the recipe, but it added a bit more of a marshmallow flavor)

At this point you can tint the egg whites with food coloring if you wanted to make the roses a certain color.

Spoon into a piping bag (or a large zip-top bag with a corner cut off) fitted with a large M1 star tip.

Pipe onto parchment lined baking sheet, making twists, swirls, or roses.

Bake in 250 degree oven about 2 hours or until meringues are firm and dry (these were done for some reason after about an hour and 15 min).

Cool completely, peel off parchment, and store in airtight container up to 2 weeks.

When adding the sugar to the egg whites, make sure the sugar is dissolved before piping. Take a bit between your finger and thumb and rub them together. You shouldn’t feel any grittiness in the egg whites.

Try to get stiff peaks in the egg whites – it will hold a shape better.

When I made the Brown Sugar Meringues, I made a little swirl shape. Here I used the M1 tip to make a rose shape. I’m a bit obsessed with that rose shape. I just love it! It’s so pretty! The other tip for baking these meringues – make sure you can get them all on two baking sheets so they can all get into the oven at the same time.

You can use colored sugar or sprinkles before baking to add even MORE festive decoration.

This shape did get a little more chewy than the swirl shape I made with the Brown Sugar Meringues. I don’t mind that.

These meringues are so easy to do, and so much fun – you’re gonna get hooked on making them like I did. You can decorate them for any occasion, and they’re delicious. The possibilities are endless – different shapes, different colors, different flavors, different sprinkles. Make your valentine feel special, and give them a dozen of THIS kind of rose – try these Valentine Meringues!

 

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Salad #9

Today’s recipe is another “salad” in the long line of salads in Grandma’s recipe file, so it’s now labeled Salad #9. There were so many gatherings and events that Grandma used these “salads” for, it’s no wonder there were so many different recipes. Grandma had 7 siblings and Grandpa had 5 siblings, and that makes for a lot of get-togethers, birthdays, baptisms, wedding, graduations, on and on and on! Then they got married and had 2 children of their own, plus all of their siblings got married and had more children – the family grew and there were a lot of nieces and nephews, and even MORE gatherings. That doesn’t even include the church and local events and activities that Grandma and Grandpa were involved in. On top of that, they LOVED to entertain, and had friends over quite often on the weekends. Then when their own 3 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren became involved in school, music, drama, and sports, they had even MORE events to attend. They loved their family, they loved their friends and community, and they loved to go to all the activities they could – and they went to a LOT. That’s why there are so many recipes used for these gatherings – you had to  bring food when you went to all of this! We’re the lucky recipients of these recipes now, and we’re going to try them all! This “salad” is, let’s face it, not what we think of as “salad”. It’s more like dessert – a dessert that would be perfect for a nice Valentine’s Day dinner!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #9

Thaw and drain:

1 pint frozen raspberries (I had frozen whole berries in my freezer, so that’s what I used)

Stir together until dissolved:

2 cups boiling water

2 small packages of raspberry JELLO

Stir in:

1 pint raspberry sherbet

Add:

the drained raspberries

Stir.

I know that Grandma would have used berries that came frozen in a brick and you had to thaw and drain them before using. You certainly can buy frozen berries in a brick or bag if you want to, I just had some frozen raspberries in my freezer from last summer. I mean to drain them as they thawed, but there wasn’t really any moisture that came out of them.

I put the boiling water into my big 4 cup measure, and it was big enough to mix all of the salad ingredients in.

I estimated (I know, I know, you’re surprised that I’d do that, aren’t you?) the pint (or 2 cups) of raspberry sherbet and scooped it right into the JELLO mixture in the 4 cup measure.

Once the sherbet is all in there, it starts to melt immediately. It WILL all melt – just keep stirring until it does.

Instead of making one big salad in a pretty bowl, I made individual salads in stemless wine glasses. I put the raspberries right in the bottom of the glasses first, and then poured the JELLO/sherbet mixture right over top. So pretty!

Yes – I think this would make a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner dessert.

This pretty dessert is just so ridiculously easy to pull together, and when you’re trying to make all the other dishes for a gathering or dinner, why not make the dessert easy, am I right? Right! Easy is where it’s at! While you’re at it, why not make something that’s ridiculously easy AND ridiculously delicious? This is it. Make this Salad #9 for your next gathering, party, or Valentine’s Day dinner and you’ll make quite the impression.

 

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8 Easy Snacks for the Super Bowl

Sunday is the biggest game of the year, so today I just had to share 8 Easy Snacks for the Super Bowl! They’re all easy to make, and you know they need to be easy to transport to whatever party you’ll be attending! Unless you’re a fan of one of the two teams playing, remember to eat your snacks during the game so you can watch the commercials!

Caramel Corn

 

Cheese Ball

 

Poppy Seed Buns

 

Oyster Cracker Snacks

 

Cajun Chex Mix

 

Dry Beef Dip

 

Buffalo Chicken Dip

 

Tiny Meatballs

 

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eASYbAKED

a collection of recipes