Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

North Carolina Lemon Pie

My son was the one who sent me this recipe for North Carolina Lemon Pie. He had seen it somewhere, emailed me the link, and in so many words, wanted me to make it sometime. I found out it came from a website called Bless This Mess, and after reading the post about this pie, I learned that Melissa from Bless This Mess had found it in an old  issue of Cook’s Country Magazine. My son likes pie. All kinds of pie. He saw that this pie had a crust made with saltine crackers and he decided we should try it. Well, I was recently looking through old emails and found this recipe again. I thought it was, indeed, time to try it. Now, he is totally capable of making his own pie, and has made pie for us for years for Thanksgiving, but I think he may have forgotten that he sent me that email a few years ago (probably before I was sick with pancreatitis), and I decided to surprise him with it one Sunday when our kids came for dinner.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

North Carolina Lemon Pie

For the crust:

Pulse in the food processor:

1 sleeve of saltine crackers (4 ounces – weighing is best to be sure you get enough cracker crumbs)

1/8 teaspoon salt


1/4 cup corn syrup

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pulse about 15 times.

Add the cracker mixture to a 9 inch pie plate, pressing the crumbs even and up the sides of the plate.

Place pie plate on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes.

For the filling (make while crust is baking):

Whisk in a large bowl:

1 can sweetened condensed milk

4 large egg yolks

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoons lemon grated lemon zest


1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

Whisk until well combined.

Leave the pie plate on the baking sheet, remove from oven, and add the filling.

Place back in the hot oven and bake until the edges are set but the middle jiggles, about 15-17 minutes.

Cool completely.

Refrigerate until completely chilled.

For the topping:

Whip until stiff peaks form:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Spread over the top of the pie and serve chilled.

Press the crumbs up the side of the pie so there’s plenty of room for the delicious filling!

Mix up the filling while the crust is baking.

All the filling did fit in the crust – I was skeptical, but it all fit in!

All baked up and ready to chill.

I had some extra lemon zest leftover (and since I’m not one to waste anything) so after adding the topping, I sprinkled on some of the extra lemon zest.

Um, yeah. So this pie was absolutely delicious! The saltiness of the crust and the silky smoothness of the filling – absolute heaven. Just heaven. The whole family loved this pie. Grandma would have loved this pie (she did have a thing for lemon). My son has a good eye. He knows what he likes and he knows what we ALL like. Yeah – I’m just gonna go ahead and recommend that you all try this amazingly sweet, yet tart North Carolina Lemon Pie!

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Trail Mix

Ok, ok, I know – everyone knows how to make Trail Mix, and everyone knows what it is. Well, maybe some people don’t. I also want this blog to be a place where you can go to be reminded of those ridiculously easy things to make that maybe our moms or grandmas made, and Trail Mix is one of those things. Another reason I’m making this easy snack is that I’ve named this summer the “Nothing But Easy Summer”, and nothing is easier than this snack. This is just the easiest and healthiest (sort of) and most delicious snack to take ANYWHERE! You could make any kind of snack mix that I’ve shared on Plenty Sweet Life – Monster Mix, Gluten-Free Snack Mix, Patriotic Snack Mix, S’Mores Snack Mix, or Oyster Cracker Snacks, but this Trail Mix is just so simple and easy. Are you driving to your summer vacation spot this year? You’re gonna want some of this. Are you invited to a friends’ cabin for a weekend this summer? You’re gonna want some of this. Are you wanting a healthy snack for your kids (who are bored out of their minds) this summer? You’re gonna want some of this. Is your husband (and a friend) driving to Michigan this weekend for a Kubb tournament? They’re gonna want some of this. Pack up a big ol’ bag of this Trail Mix, and send them off to whatever adventure your family is into this summer. You can certainly pack this snack in a container of some kind, but I’m putting this batch in a plastic zip-top bag. While I’d rather not use plastic that you throw right into the landfill, I know that after 35 years of marriage, there are certain things that just aren’t gonna work. If I want my containers to come back home with the hubs, I just don’t send them. We go disposable all the way (especially in this particular circumstance of the trip to Michigan for a Kubb tournament). You might feel the same about camping, vacation, or sending this snack with your kids somewhere – it might be easier to pack this in individual serving zip-top bags. Plus, you don’t REALLY know where those little hands have been – and that might also be said for the hubs and his friend – and you don’t necessarily want everyone digging their hands into the bag for their share of the Trail Mix. So let it go. Just let it go. This is all about easy. This is the “Nothing But Easy Summer”. And we’re not going to worry about a thing – even whether or not you’re gonna get your containers back.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Trail Mix

Mix together:

1 bag of chocolate candies (the kind that doesn’t melt in your hand) – milk chocolate, peanut, peanut butter, caramel – any kind you like

1 container nuts: cocktail peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, mixed nuts – any kind you like

1 cup dried fruit (you can add more, but I find that my family likes the peanuts and chocolate more and there’s always a pile of raisins left at the end) – raisins, chopped apricots, pineapple, dates – any kind you like

I used the classics to make this batch – milk chocolate candies, peanuts, and raisins.

Put into a container or zip-top bag.

Enjoy on your next summer adventure or just this weekend!

This seems so ridiculously simple, and it is, but this is also a great way to use leftover chocolate from a holiday or to be able to use chocolate I’ve been able to get half price after a holiday. Nobody cares what color the chocolate is – they only care that it’s chocolate!

Put the chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit into a bowl and mix them together. That’s it. Done!

If you’re traveling (like the hubs and his friend this weekend), you can pack this in a zip-top bag for easy disposal. If you want to (and you’re pretty sure you’ll get it back) pack it in a container for storage.

Well, sometimes it doesn’t get into the container or bag soon enough – like in this case. Oops! They’ll never miss just one little dish full, right?

Now that you’ve been reminded of this delicious, tasty, and stupid-easy to make snack mix, go ahead and make a batch. Now that you’ve been reminded of this classic Trail Mix, try different options with chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit – let me know what you come up with – I’d love to know!


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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I love these Sweet and Sour Meatballs so much! The recipe comes from my big, old, red Betty Crocker Cookbook, and it’s total comfort food for the whole family. We get cravings for these meatballs, because this was another one of those recipes that I made a couple of times a month when our kids were growing up. On one of our recent Sunday family dinners, I asked if anyone had a request and our oldest daughter suggested having these meatballs. Great idea! I haven’t made them for a while – I don’t know why – and we were all glad for that suggestion. These are so tasty and so good!

Lucky you! You get a bonus recipe for Swedish Meatballs (although not MY family’s recipe for Swedish Meatballs ) on this one, too!

Here is the recipe as I made it

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

For the meatballs:

Mix together:

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/2 cup milk

2 Tablespoons onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 egg

Shape into 1 1/2-inch balls.

Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until brown, about 20 minutes.

Or cook in ungreased 13″ x 9″pan in 400 degree oven until light brown, 20-25 minutes.

For the sauce:

Cook meatballs in skillet, remove.

Drain fat from skillet.

Mix in the skillet:

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons corn starch

Stir in:

13 3/4 ounce can pineapple chunks, with syrup

1/3 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, reduce heat.

Add meatballs.

Cover, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Stir in:

1 green pepper, coarsely chopped.

Cover and simmer until crisp-tender, 5 minutes.

I don’t need to show you how to make meatballs. Just mix them up, roll them, and cook them on all sides as evenly as you can. I’m going to admit right now, I’m sooooooooo bad at making meatballs. I just don’t have the patience to keep turning them to brown on all sides. They usually end up as some kind of pyramid shape.

This is just a shot of the pineapple – ok, ok, I was playing around with the close-up feature on my camera. I just thought it looked cool.

I used my biggest pan and it filled it up pretty well. This is the meatballs with the pineapple added to make the delicious sauce.

Next add the green pepper and let it bubble for about 5 minutes.

I usually serve this dish with rice. To make it easier, I cook rice and put it into the freezer in zip top bags frozen flat to take up less space. Then it’s even easier to get dinner on the table – just warm up the rice and serve. It’s simple. It’s tasty. It’s a family favorite. It makes great leftovers, if there is any left. I think you’re going to want to try this easy and delicious dinner dish – Sweet and Sour Meatballs!



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Happy Earth Day 2019!

Happy Earth Day! Grandma and Grandpa were married just after the Great Depression, and without even knowing it, they were being good to the earth by how they lived on the farm.

Here’s how they did it:

They didn’t buy anything they didn’t need, and when they did buy something, they bought the very best so they wouldn’t have to spend money on buying another one for a very long time.

They recycled everything they could by reusing it in some way –

  • they would reuse underwear, undershirts, socks, or old shirts by using them for rags for cleaning the house, etc., and then they would re-wash and reuse them over and over again until there was nothing left of them. I don’t remember them using a lot of paper towels.
  • they never threw away paper bags, cardboard boxes, or glass containers because they may need them for storing things or using them for bringing something to someone or packaging a gift.
  • they would keep old parts of anything (machinery, furniture, lighting, anything around the farm) because you might be able to use it in some way at another time and not have to spend money to get a new part or waste gas by driving into town to get a new part.

They grew their own food in the garden and preserved it for future use by freezing or canning.

They composted food waste by feeding it to the pigs they grew for both their own food and for making money.

This is a small list, but I think we could all benefit from being more like Grandma and Grandpa in how we think about the items we buy, use, and throw away. Let’s be good to the earth – it’s the only one we have!




Happy Easter – Happy Spring!

Happy Easter everyone, and Happy Spring!

I hope you all have a wonderful day with family and friends.


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Easter Braid

This recipe for Easter Braid comes from the same cookbook that has the Hopping Bunny Rolls recipe in it. It was the Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Cookbook copyright 1970 that I got for my 12th birthday, and I’ve been using the holiday recipes in that book ever since. I make the Hopping Bunny Rolls every year – it’s now a family tradition – but I have never tried this Easter Braid. Mostly because I always make the Hopping Bunny Rolls, and we don’t need more sweet bread. Well, maybe just the two kinds. There may be a new tradition in my future. Oops – I forgot the third kind of sweet bread – Hot Crossed Buns. The more the merrier, I guess. I’m so glad I tried this bread. It kind of tastes like a Christmas bread, only strangely more like a spring time sweet bread. It must be the lemon rind that’s put in it. Whatever. I’m not going to over-analyze it, I’m just going to enjoy it.

This is an all day recipe – it takes some time, but it’s totally worth it!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Easter Braid

Soften in 1/4 cup warm water:

1 package active dry yeast


1 cup milk, scalded

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

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

Cool to lukewarm.

Stir in:

about 2 cups of flour


2 eggs

Mix well.

Stir in:

softened yeast


2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon mace (opt.-  I don’t use mace for anything, so I don’t keep that in my cupboard – I googled it and found out that allspice can be substituted, so I used that)

1 cup raisins

3 1/2 to 4 cups flour (enough to make a soft dough)

Let rest 10 minutes.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.

Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch down; let rise until almost double (about 1 hour).

Divide and round dough into 2 balls, one for each loaf.

Let rest, covered, 10 minutes.

For each loaf:

Divide one ball in fourths

Shape 3 parts into strands 12 inches long, tapering ends.

Line up strands 1 inch apart on lightly greased baking sheet.

Braid loosely without stretching dough, beginning in the middle and working toward either end.

Seal ends well.

Divide remaining dough into thirds.

Shape into strands 8-9 inches long, tapering ends.

Braid loosely and place on top of large braid, tucking ends of small braid into large one.

Cover and let rise until double.

Bake loaves at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

While warm, spread with Sugar Glaze.

Makes 2 loaves.

Sugar Glaze:

Mix until well blended:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup hot water

1 teaspoon butter or margarine (I used butter)

Drizzle over warm Easter Braid.

When the dough is mixed up, put it into the lightly greased bowl and flip it over. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise.

Let rise until double – about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down and let rise another 1 hour.

Divide the dough into two balls, cover, and let rest 10 minutes.

Cut each ball into 4 even parts. Roll 3 of the parts into logs about 12 inches long and braid together loosely. tucking under the ends. Cut the remaining part into 3 parts, roll those 3 parts into logs about 9 inches long, braid those loosely, and put on top of the larger braid, tucking in the ends. Cover and let rise until double.

After the loaves are baked, drizzle on the Sugar Glaze. What a perfect place for an action shot!

I don’t know – is that enough glaze? What do you think? I think it’s a good thing this recipe makes 2 loaves. That’s what I think.

I really don’t know why I’ve never tried this recipe before. It’s weird – for all the years I’ve had this cookbook. I’m just glad I decided to try this one now. I WILL be making this one again. It’s amazingly delicious and I can’t wait to try it as a sandwich with our Easter ham. This is the year –  try this Easter Braid and “wow” your family and friends!

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Sesame-Orange Scones

Today I’m sharing a recipe for Sesame-Orange Scones that comes from a magazine article that I ripped out of a magazine years ago. This magazine article had both the Chocolate Chip Scones and Maple Pecan Scones recipes in it, and as I’ve said before, I’m working my way through trying all of those scone recipes because they’ve all been so good. I can’t remember what magazine I ripped them out of (although I THINK it might have been Country Living Magazine) but this ripped out article (which is 9 pages long) has been around here for years. These Sesame-Orange Scones would be great for your Easter breakfast with that delicious sesame and orange flavor.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sesame-Orange Scones

In a large bowl, combine:

3 cups flour

1/2 cup sesame seeds (set aside 1 Tablespoon)

3 Tablespoons grated orange rind (set aside 1 Tablespoon)

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs:

2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening (I used butter)

Add to dry ingredients:

1 cup orange juice (set aside 1 Tablespoon)

Mix lightly with a fork until mixture clings together and forms a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently 5 or 6 times.

With a lightly floured rolling-pin, roll dough into a 7-inch round (I just used my hands to make the dough into a 7-inch round).

Cut into 4 wedges.

Place scones 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet.

Pierce tops of scones with a fork.

Put in a small saucepan:

reserved 1 Tablespoon orange juice

3 Tablespoons sugar

Heat to boiling and then stir in:

reserved 1 Tablespoon orange rind

Brush over tops of scones.

Sprinkle with:

reserved 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

Bake at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Brush again with orange glaze.

Serve warm.

Sesame seeds seem to be an unusual ingredient for scones, but they do add a nice, crunch along with a nutty flavor.

I used my pastry blender to mix in the butter.

Ready for the orange juice.

This was how much I mixed it with a fork before turning it out to knead.

I wanted to make the recipe just as it was, but next time I would definitely cut the 7-inch round into more than 4 pieces. 6 or even 8 scones seems more logical.

The scones were huge in the end, and a bit doughy inside – not quite baked through. Cutting them into smaller scones would help that not happen next time.

Even though they weren’t quite done in the middle, these scones were amazingly delicious. They’d be another great treat for Easter morning. That crunch of the sesame seeds and the delicious and somewhat sticky orange glaze make these melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Your family would love it if you made these Sesame-Orange Scones for their Easter morning breakfast!


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Easter Blonde Brownies

Today’s recipe for Easter Blonde Brownies is the recipe for Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownies that I’ve made on the blog before – I just made it into a holiday treat! I mean, this recipe was from before the name for this type of  bars was Blondies. These bars are so different from brownies. My mom always made brownies when we were growing up, mainly because she has a chocolate problem, but these are more of almost a caramel flavor from the brown sugar. Oh my. This recipe is really, really, really good. I mean it. These are ANOTHER total red light food for me. I. Can’t. Stop. They. Are. So. Good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Easter Blonde Brownies

Sift together:

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt


1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I didn’t use nuts for this batch)

Mix well and set aside.


1/3 cup butter


1 cup packed brown sugar



1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add flour mixture to the egg mixture a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Pour into 9″ x 9″ pan.

Sprinkle on Easter chocolate candies and sprinkles (or chocolate chips as in the recipe for Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownies).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Cool in pan.

This is a very easy recipe with minimal ingredients.

It does make a thick batter.

I used a little offset spatula to spread the batter in the pan.

I think this would be another fun one to try to put all kinds of candies on top of the bars: jelly beans, peanut butter cups, Peeps, etc.

What a festive and pretty holiday treat! I love making something ordinary into something more extraordinary by using holiday candies and sprinkles – it’s just so fun! Go crazy and try your own variation of these delicious – and very festive – Easter Blonde Brownies!

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Blueberry Breakfast Bread

This recipe for Blueberry Breakfast Bread is so ridiculously easy, it’s amazing. It came from the same cookbook that I use for the Hopping Bunny Rolls that I’ve made every year since I was a teenager. The recipe is so short and sweet – it’s almost laughable. In fact, when I was looking through that cookbook recently, I laughed out loud when I saw it. I’ve never noticed this particular recipe before, and I just don’t know why. It’s a great quick and easy recipe, perfect for Easter morning. Speaking of Easter morning, I just had to share this photo of my other grandma (she’s the oldest in the back) and her younger sister and one of her two younger brothers. I don’t know if it was Easter or not when this photo was taken, but by the looks of it they were dressed in their Sunday best. I can’t stand it! This is just the cutest!

They really are dressed up! My grandma looks like she was about 7 or 8 years old in this one, so that would have made it about 1918 or 1919 or so. I just love the dresses and how they have their hair done and the fact that both girls are wearing pearls. And just look at her little brother’s little black shoes! So sweet.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Prepare according to package directions (it says to prepare according to package instructions for coffee cake or loaf cake, but the package I used didn’t have any instructions for those, and the product website didn’t either, so I just made the muffin mix the regular way):

1 package of blueberry muffin mix

Pour into a greased 8 1/2 inch round baking dish (I used a 9″ square pan).


1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

Cut in with a pastry blender until crumbly:

2 Tablespoons butter

Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

The muffin mix that I used called for 1/2 cup of either water or milk. I used milk. Maybe next time I’d try a different kind of muffin – I think any flavor of muffin mix would be delicious.

This breakfast bread would be pretty in a round pan, but I used a square one for this. It seems like a lot of topping for the muffin batter, but put it all on – it’s delicious!

The topping bakes up crispy and sweet – plenty sweet!

The recipe says to serve warm with butter, but I really don’t think it needs butter. It’s so good just plain.

I can’t believe how good this bread is (I actually think of it as more of a coffee cake), and how quick and easy it is to make. It’s perfect for Easter morning when you have enough to do – you don’t want to add extra work when it’s not necessary. I think this would be a great breakfast bread to bring with you if you’re heading to someone else’s home to celebrate Easter, too. The blueberry was good, but try other flavors, too, and see how that goes. This Blueberry Breakfast Bread is absolutely delicious – you’re gonna love it!


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Copycat Lipton Onion Soup Mix and Lipton Onion Soup Dip

You know it, you love it, it’s baaaaack – Lipton Onion Soup Dip from the 1970’s! I was perusing one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks when I saw this –

Seriously? We needed a recipe for that? Yes! You know why? Because we would need to be reminded someday. Years would go by and we’d forget – for some, God knows why reason – to make this delicious dip recipe, and by looking through the old cookbooks, we’d see it and be reminded of how many good times we had when we also were enjoying this dip, how amazingly delicious this dip was, and that it was time to make it again. THEN we’d realized how dumb it was to forget about this ridiculously tasty and addicting dip, we’d put it in our recipe boxes – digital or otherwise – and NEVER forget it again. This is one of those delicious things we need to keep making – over and over and over and over again. Because it’s that good. IT IS THAT GOOD.

So, here’s the thing. I was going to just get the good old envelope and some sour cream, make this dip and be done with it. But then I picked up the box at the store and happened to look at the ingredients (as I do these days). Yikes. There weren’t many ingredients that I could pronounce. I did buy the box, but when I got home, I did some online research and found that MANY people have posted a copycat recipe for the soup mix. 90% of these recipes were the same, so I decided to make it and try this instead of the envelope. I’m not gonna judge you if you just want to go ahead and do the easy envelope thing, but holy crap – is this good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lipton Onion Soup Dip

Mix all together:

3/4 cup dried onion flakes

1/2 cup powdered beef bullion

4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Store in an airtight container.

1/4 cup = one envelope soup mix

For dip:

Mix together:

1/4 cup soup mix

1 pint sour cream

Allow flavors to meld in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Enjoy with potato chips, pretzels, crackers, or veggies.

You probably have most of these ingredients in your spice cupboard. After making this dip, you’ll just keep this stuff in your cupboard all the time so you can keep this on hand at all times.

Mix up the spices and add 1/4 cup of the mix with 1 pint of sour cream.

Done. So easy.

So, so, so, so good.

I’m so glad I found this dip again. And just in time for the Final Four here in Minneapolis this year! It is so darn good. So good. Make this dip. Please. You’ll love it. I promise. Call all your friends over, stock up on potato chips, pretzels, crackers and veggies, and make this Lipton Onion Soup Dip so you can cheer on your favorite team – on second thought – you’d better make a double batch.


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