Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Black and White Bars

As you can see, my mom first made these Black and White Bars in April of 1970! I love that! I love that she and Grandma started the tradition of writing on the recipe the date that they first made that recipe. I do it now and so do my daughters. It’s a fun way to remember just how long we’ve all been making these great recipes. Speaking of long ago, this photo is of me jumping into the water at the lake when I was about 3 years old. I think they used one of those new-fangled cameras called a Polaroid – you know, the kind where you take the photo and peel off the back and then wait for it to develop right before your eyes!

This is a total summer pic – I must say, it sure looks like I was enjoying myself! If water was involved – I KNOW I was! This is why we need really easy, really delicious recipes in the summertime. This is why I designated this the “Nothing But Easy Summer”, so we could get out and enjoy those things we love to do without suffering with bland and yukky food. This is why I’ve been sharing quick to make, easy to do, tasty recipes. I love summer!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Black and White Bars


1 cup shortening (I used butter)

2 cups sugar


4 eggs, unbeaten

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups nuts, chopped

Pour 3/4 of batter into 9″ x 13″ pan.

Add to remaining batter:

2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

Spoon dollops of chocolate batter onto top of batter in pan as in marble cake.


Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

The recipe also says you can leave out the baking chocolate, add chocolate chips, and make them as blonde brownies.

Here are the two kinds of batter before the swirl.

I just used a spoon to dollop the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla batter.

The batter – both kinds – was so thick, I didn’t think that maybe this would work. I tried to swirl the batter with a toothpick, but that didn’t work. Then I tried a wooden skewer – the pointed end – and THAT didn’t work. Next I flipped the skewer over and used the flat, cut end, and finally that worked. Sort of. I wasn’t so sure about this.

It worked! Look how pretty they are!

I will totally be making these over and over and over.

This recipe totally fits with the “easy” theme for this summer. They’re so easy to make and they’re so good – I know why my mom’s been making these since 1970! Make a batch or two of these Black and White Bars – maybe put one in the freezer – and get outside and enjoy the summer before we look up and another summer is already gone!


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Fantasy Freeze Pie

Today’s recipe for Fantasy Freeze Pie comes from Grandma’s youngest sister. She submitted it to the last church cookbook that Grandma was involved in, so you know it’s good! I’ve said this before, but Grandma and her sisters were really good at picking the best recipes to keep and serve to their friends and family. This photo is of the youngest sister who submitted this recipe (on the right), and she’s posing with their oldest sister. Somehow my mom managed to get into the photo, too!!

She’s the little pip-squeak in the background wearing the scarf and white shoes! So cute! Grandma’s family was great for taking pictures – whether it was a special occasion or not! They also made many, many, many delicious desserts – whether it was for a special occasion or not! This pie we’re making today is just such a dessert! It can be for a special occasion – or not!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fantasy Freeze Pie

Mix with electric mixer until well blended:

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

7 ounce jar marshmallow creme

Add and mix well:

1 cup sherbet, softened (raspberry, lemon, or orange – I used raspberry here)

Fold in:

2 cups thawed Cool Whip (I couldn’t find LaCreme whipped topping)

1/2 cup slivered, toasted almonds, chopped (I used sliced, toasted almonds)

Pour into pre-baked pie shell (I used a store-bought graham cracker crust, but you can make your own).

Freeze until firm.

Here we go – another very easy, very delicious recipe for this summer – perfect for the “Nothing But Easy Summer”!

This pie is so easy to pull together – you just need a mixer and a bowl.

Just mix it all up and into the pie crust it goes.

Once it’s in the crust, into the freezer it goes.

You just gotta have sprinkles.

This pie is perfect for a hot summer day. No oven necessary if you use a store-bought crust. I put plastic wrap over top so it stayed fresh, and saved it for our Sunday family dinner. It’s so easy to make and so tasty. I used the raspberry sherbet, but I want to try the lemon or orange – that would also be so refreshing! Make this frozen Fantasy Freeze Pie and cool off this summer – whether it’s for a special occasion or not!

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Raw Veggie Bars (or Veggie Pizza)

It’s great to have sisters-in-law who are great cooks and can give me great recipes like Raw Veggie Bars (or Veggie Pizza). I know the official name of this recipe is Raw Veggie Bars, but we always call it Veggie Pizza, so I’m going to go ahead and title this one Raw Veggie Bars (or Veggie Pizza) or my family might not know what I’m talking about! This has made the rounds of family gatherings for years, and nobody ever gets tired of it – it’s just such a great recipe! It’s so tasty – I love it! I could seriously eat the whole thing – maybe not at one time – well, maybe. Anyhoo – it’s easy to make, it’s amazingly pretty, and it’s ridiculously delicious! Perfect for summertime when you need to bring something to the cabin, you’re having guests for the weekend, or maybe you need something fresh to make for book club like I did. That may or may not be why I somehow deleted all of the photographs I took while making this veggie pizza. My apologies for that, and please don’t look too close at the phone pics I had to use in this post! đŸ™‚

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Raw Veggie Bars

Press into a 11″ x 16″ (I used a jelly roll pan) ungreased pan:

2 tubes of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes and cool.

Mix together:

3/4 cup salad dressing or mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

2-8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened

1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix

Spread over crust.

Sprinke on top:

any combination of vegetables, chopped fine (I used carrots, cucumber, broccoli, red pepper, green onion)

Sprinkle on:

4 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, or about half of an 8 ounce bag (or put on the whole thing if you want to – it’s totally up to you)

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours.

Cut into bars.

OMG. Seriously. How pretty is this? Love it.

Depending on how big you cut the bars, it does make a big batch – the whole jelly roll pan full. Yay! For your sake, I hope you have leftovers!

Let’s face it. This is a great recipe. I know I say this a lot, but it’s one of my favorites, and I really should double it the next time I make it. It’s just so good and so easy to make. No matter what you make it for: cabin, weekend, or book club, you’ll also love these Raw Veggie Bars (or Veggie Pizza)!



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10 Icy Cold Treats for a Hot Summer Weekend!

Today I’m sharing 10 Icy Cold Treats for a Hot Summer Weekend! It’s hot, folks, and we need some icy cold treats to keep us cool. I hope you can find one or two or ten that appeal to your tastes! Enjoy and stay cool!

Creamy Lemon Popsicles with Blueberries


10 Minute German Sweet Chocolate Cream Pie


Dessert #2


Dessert #4


3 Ingredient Watermelon Lime Popsicles


Dessert #6


Peach Smoothie


Homemade Ice Cream and Root Beer Floats


Pineapple Lemonade


Dessert #5


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Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip

When did I start making these Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip? I don’t even know. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember. Actually, the kabobs were a staple at a lot of graduations, confirmations, and our wedding, but the dip came a few years later. Kabobs are an easy, easy thing to do (in keeping with my “Nothing But Easy Summer”), but they’re so ridiculously impressive. Kids love to help make these, and they also love to eat them. Oh come on, who are we kidding – everyone loves to make them, and everyone loves to eat them. They’re easy to do, and they’re a lot of fun to make, PLUS they’re delicious! I use the regular wooden skewers that you can buy at any grocery store, but if you’re going to serve them to kids, cut off the sharp end after you get the fruit on there so. We don’t want anyone getting poked by that sharp end.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fruit Kabobs

I used strawberries, green grapes, pineapple, and blackberries for these kabobs, but you can use any combination you want, as long as the fruit is firm enough to stay on the skewer. Just wash the fruit, cut it into cubes (if necessary, as with melon), and push them onto the skewers. You can lay them on a platter, like I did here when I served them for book club, or you could try a fun way to serve them that I’ve done in the past. I cut a whole pineapple or watermelon in half, lay it flat side down on a platter, and poke the skewers into it. Then each person can pull out and take the skewer they want. It looks like so pretty it’s very festive, and it’s a lot of fun!

Fruit Dip

1 large Cool Whip

12 ounces cream cheese

1 medium jar strawberry jam

Mix all together.

This is best if it sits overnight.

The recipe for this dip makes a BIG batch. It will last you awhile.

The possibilities are endless for the different fruit combinations you can make on the kabobs.

Fruit is always good. Kabobs are a pretty and more fun way to eat fruit. I love this idea! The dip adds a sweet treat component, which you can either use with the kabobs or just leave off. You can also dip the fruit without putting it on a skewer – it’s up to you how you like to do it. Trust me – these Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip are easy and impressive to bring to any gathering!



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Herbed Cheese Spread

Today I’m sharing a recipe I’m calling Herbed Cheese Spread. I have a lot of herbs growing just outside my kitchen door on our deck, and I like to try and come up with new ways to use them. We’ve had so much rain here in Minnesota this spring and now into summer, that I’ve hardly even had to water them, and now it’s hot! They’re growing like crazy! I think both of my grandmas would approve of the fact that I’m growing my own herbs and using them, preserving them (hopefully I can show how I do that later this fall – if there are any herbs left in my pots), and saving money while doing it!

This is my little lemon tree that I have struggled to get to this point. We don’t have any south facing windows in our house, so it’s hard to “baby” this little tree through the long, cold Minnesota winters, but I am DETERMINED to get lemons from this tree! It likes the sun and heat on the deck better than having to be in the house during our winters.

It gets lemons on it but they don’t last long before they fall off. I know I should look into fertilizing more, but it’s just one of those things. It actually looks pretty good right now – it must like the rain water! It’s blooming right now, and has some little lemons on it so . . . here’s hoping!

I decided to try and make this cheese to serve with crackers or slices of baguette. It’s another ridiculously easy to do and ridiculously delicious snack or appetizer that would be perfect with a nice glass of rose or white wine out on the deck. It’s easy to do as long as you have herbs around, whether you’re growing them yourself or have them leftover from a dish you’ve made. I’m really starting to enjoy this “Nothing But Easy Summer”!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Herbed Cheese Spread

Mix together:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon chives, chopped

2 chive blossoms, pulled apart (obviously, if you have them, but not necessary)

1 teaspoon basil, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 teaspoon oregano, chopped

1/2 teaspoon rosemary, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1-2 Tablespoons lemon zest

salt and pepper, to taste

1-2 cloves garlic, minced


1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice or more, enough to make it spreadable

These really are simple ingredients: Cream cheese, herbs, and lemon.

How pretty is this?!! I love that I have also found something else to do with my beautiful chive blossoms!

Mix it all together and that’s it! Done!

There is no easier appetizer or snack for guests or just for yourself!

I love this cheese spread! It uses the herbs from my pots and makes the most delicious appetizer EVER! It’s easy to do and amazingly delicious. You’re gonna love this and so will your friends! Open up a nice bottle of rose or white wine, call up some friends, and make up a batch of this Herbed Cheese Spread!




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Rhubarb Chutney

Today I’m sharing what is probably the last of my rhubarb recipes for the year – Rhubarb Chutney. This recipe came from a good friend of ours, and it looks like she got it from the April 2003 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. It’s wonderful to have great friends to help see you through life’s ups and downs. You can never have enough support and help when you need it to see you through. Life has a way of making this so obvious – as my family learned all too well when I was sick. We can’t get through this life and it’s tough situations alone, and why would you want to? As John Donne wrote in his beautiful and appropriate poem, “No Man is an Island”, we all need friends (or at the very least, other people). I’m sure glad I have great ones! In additions to all that mushy stuff – sometimes they even send you wonderful recipes like this one! đŸ™‚

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Chutney

Stir together in a large, heavy saucepan:

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 1/2 cinnamon sticks

1 1/2 Tablespoons minced, fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon (scant) ground cardamom

Heat until mixture boils and sugar dissolves.


4 1/2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb

3/4 cup dried currants (I used raisins because I couldn’t find currants at my store)

4 green onions, chopped

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, about 4 minutes.

Cool to room temperature.

Discard cinnamon.

Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least an hour.

Bring to room temperature before serving.

Into the pot go the first 6 ingredients.

Next, in go the fruit and veggies.

After cooking, cool and then this pretty mixture goes into the frig.

I served this chutney over a pork roast with a potato salad and fruit. Yum!

This chutney is so easy to make and is so delicious . . . omg! It would also be good over ham or chicken breast. I even tried it on top of cream cheese for an appetizer. It was SO good! I spread it on crackers, and it was perfect with a glass of wine. What a great way to end my rhubarb recipes for this year. Life’s so much better with good friends. Why not call up those friends and have a dinner party using this delicious chutney with your favorite main dish, or have them come over for a glass of wine and serve this delicious chutney with cream cheese as an appetizer? You’ll get to enjoy this wonderful Rhubarb Chutney AND your wonderful friends at the same time!




Blueberry Banana Popsicles

These Blueberry Banana Popsicles are a delicious frozen treat that I made one of our first hot days here in Minnesota. I still had a lot of frozen fruit in my freezer and I needed to use it up. Popsicles! It’s the first thing I thought of! I’m trying to make healthier treats and snacks for me and my husband, and these popsicles are a great alternative to ice cream. I mean, we LOVE ice cream – who doesn’t? I have made 2 Ingredient Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream with frozen bananas and strawberries, and the possibilities are endless for making that kind of treat. I used bananas with the blueberries for this particular recipe, but I’ve also just pureed real fruit like mango and pineapple, and frozen those in the popsicle molds. I’ve used fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with fruit, also, but I love how these turned out using the bananas. There was also a nice surprise with these popsicles, which I’ll talk about later in this post.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Blueberry Banana Popsicles

Put into food processor:

2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks

1 cup frozen blueberries (or other frozen berries, or 2 Tablespoons coco powder)

2 Tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup, if desired (you don’t have to add any if you don’t want to)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process until smooth.


1/4-1/2 cup of skim milk or almond milk, if needed to make the mixture smooth

I got 6 popsicles from this, but how many you get from the mixture will depend on how much (if any) milk you add to make the mixture smooth.

I used frozen fruit for this because I already had it in my freezer. I use a lot of frozen bananas for smoothies, ice cream, etc., and sometimes I’ll just buy a lot of bananas if they’re on sale just to put them into the freezer. I peel them, cut them in half, and put them into zip top freezer bags in the freezer. Make sure you label the bags so you know what they are if they get buried in the back of your freezer! If you use frozen fruit, you can decide whether you want to just eat it immediately like ice cream, or spoon it into popsicle molds (or use the old paper cup method).

At first the fruit looks like this after a few pulses in the food processor.

Because blueberries aren’t the juiciest fruit, I added the almond milk (to keep it fat free – or you could use skim milk), and that helped the mixture smooth out.

At this point, you could just eat it as ice cream. I wanted to put it into my popsicle mold, so I spooned it in and added the popsicle sticks (found as craft sticks at any craft store). The sticks stood up on their own because the mixture is so thick. I never put the lid on top (that comes with the mold) because I’ve found it nearly impossible to get the sticks out of it first so you can then pull the popsicles out of the mold. Next, into the freezer it went. You can also use paper cups for making the popsicles if you don’t have molds or don’t want to invest in them.

OMG. These are so good and good for you! I mean they were seriously tasty! It works well to take them out of the molds and wrap them individually for future snacking – then they’re ready to go when you need one. The one nice surprise I mentioned at the top of the post – they stayed soft and didn’t get icy – even after several days! Sometimes that can happen when making homemade popsicles or ice cream, but these didn’t. I don’t know if it was because the fruit was frozen first or because I added the honey or what, but I’m gonna try that again. These Blueberry Banana Popsicles are a healthy, delicious, good for you treat you’re gonna want to make over and over again!





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Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday celebrating with family and friends! When me and my sister were growing up, we spent every 4th of July in the boat. We had so much fun skiing, swimming, canoeing, eating, blowing up firecrackers (which were NOT legal), and spending time with a lot of the people who meant the most to us. I have such amazing memories of those days.

Enjoy the day and make it a memory-making one!


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10 Easy Treats for 4th of July!

Today I’m sharing some past posts for 10 Easy Treats for 4th of July! These recipes are all easy to do, they’re very festive, and they’re all amazingly delicious! Enjoy!

4th of July Soda Cracker Bars


Angel Food Cake


Patriotic Snack Mix


Independence Day Bundt Cake


Sugar Cookies #4 and Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches


Popcorn Cake


Homemade Ice Cream and Root Beer Floats


Fairy Cookies


Blueberry Pie


Ost Kaka – the Easy Kind


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