Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Salad #10

You all know how this goes – Grandma had so many “salad” recipes (recipes just named “Salad”) that we are now up to Salad #10. Remember that these “salads” don’t always contain vegetables. In fact, most of them are made with some kind of jello, fruit, whipped cream combination. There was that one Vegetable Salad that contained jello along with some vegetables and other weird things, but we don’t talk about that one. I did say I’d make ALL the recipes – but that one was waaayyy out there. Grandma just had so many family gatherings, potluck dinners, and church gatherings, that it seems that she kept a file of a LOT of different “salads” to pull out on a moments notice. She made this particular “salad” a lot, and I know why – it’s the most ridiculously easy salad EVER – AND it’s delicious. By the way – all of Grandma’s “salad” recipes are absolutely delicious. Except for that Vegetable Salad.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #10

The recipe says to make a package of lemon pie filling or pudding mix as directed except use whole eggs and add 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and then cool.

I wanted to make this salad even easier, so I used a can of lemon pie filling instead – no mixing the pudding or pie filling ahead of time.

Whip:

1 cup of whipping cream (there’s no need to add any sugar to the cream – when you add the fruit, that makes it “plenty sweet”)

Mix in:

1 can lemon pie filling (I used this instead of the package of lemon pudding and pie filling mix – Grandma says on the card that you can also use apricot or peach pie filling)

Add drained fruit:

I added: fruit cocktail, pineapple, mandarin oranges

If necessary you can add some mini marshmallows – I used about a half of a bag just for demonstration purposes – the salad didn’t really need them (Grandma always did this when she felt the “salad” was too soft or runny from the fruit juice).

This recipe is seriously one of the EASIEST “salads” you could possibly make. You could even have the ingredients in your pantry, ready to go – especially if you wanted to use something like a frozen non-dairy whipped topping instead of whipping cream – just keep that in your freezer.

I mixed the lemon pie filling and the whipped cream together first.

Next, in went the drained fruit. After the fruit is mixed in, this is where you can then decide if you need some miniature marshmallows to make the salad less “soft” or “wet”.

I did add about a half of the bag of marshmallows, just for demonstration purposes. Plus they’re delicious – that is the goal here, after all.

This “salad” can be served straight from the big bowl, if you’re at a larger gathering, but it’s also pretty in individual dishes if you’re serving it for a smaller gathering.

Whether you need a “dish to pass” for a potluck dinner, or it’s just you and your special someone for a more intimate dinner, this “salad” is quick and easy to make, and it’s absolutely delicious. Add this Salad #10 to your recipe arsenal for all of your “salad” needs, and you’ll be able to whip this one up at a moment’s notice.

 

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Homemade Ricotta on Toasts with Tomatoes

I can’t wait to share this Homemade Ricotta on Toasts with Tomatoes today! This is something I’ve never tried to do before, and with the help of the unbleached, natural cheesecloth from Cheesecloth.com, I’m giving it a try! I love that Cheesecloth.com has an unbleached variety, because sometimes the cheesecloth that’s bleached white can have a bit of a bleachy smell, and who wants that? Not me! I LOVE this unbleached variety (plus its pretty). Who knew making your own ricotta cheese at home would be so easy? I loved making it! It’s like magic – only it’s science! It was easy to do, it was delicious, and I can’t wait to try it again. Let’s just get on with it so I can show you how I did it!

There are recipes for how to do this all over the internet, so I’m just going to type it out.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Homemade Ricotta

Set over a large bowl:

a sieve lined with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth (if you don’t dampen the cheesecloth, it may spill out over the top of the sieve instead of draining properly)

Pour into a large stainless steel pot:

4 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

Stir in:

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat and add:

3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice (I used white wine vinegar)

Allow to stand one minute (I did give it a little stir), until the vinegar causes it to curdle and separate.

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined sieve and allow to drain about 20 minutes (the longer your let it drain, the firmer the ricotta will be).

Discard the liquid that collects in the bottom of the bowl.

Transfer ricotta from the sieve to another bowl.

Discard remaining liquid and cheesecloth.

Use immediately (if you like it nice and warm) or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

For the tomato topping (depending on taste), mix all together:

2-3 red, ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

4-6 Tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

basil leaves, chopped (as much as you have in your garden or as much as you like)

Like I mentioned above, I LOVE this unbleached cheesecloth from Cheesecloth.com!

I cut the cheesecloth to the appropriate size and dampened it, then gave it a shake to get rid of any threads left on it from cutting it. Lay a double layer into your sieve over a bowl and you’re ready to drain the mixture.

4 simple imgreidents – that’s it!

Once your mixture has curdled, pour it into the sieve. My sieve is small, and I didn’t know if it would hold all of the mixture, so I made another sieve with cheesecloth using my colander (in the background).

It worked! Look how pretty! I got too excited and ripped the cheesecloth off and pulled a chunk off the side, but wow! I impressed myself!

I took the ricotta from both sieves, mixed them together, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and put it all into the refrigerator until I needed it. It should last about 4-5 days covered in the frig.

I cut slices of a baguette, lightly drizzled olive oil on them, and baked them at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until they were crisp, but not too crisp.

Next I made the tomato bruschetta-type mixture to put on the top.

I originally wanted to make this tomato mixture with balsamic vinegar (above photo), but when I was about to pour it in, decided to use a lighter red wine vinegar instead.

OMG. Yum. The ricotta cheese is SOOOO smooth and creamy and delicious and the tomato mixture adds a punch of flavor.

I know ricotta cheese is an Italian thing, but the kitchen totally smelled like Grandma and Grandpa’s kitchen when I was making this – they were dairy farmers, after all. Watch for a Scandinavian idea using ricotta cheese later this fall! Making ricotta cheese at home was SO easy to do, especially when I used the unbleached cheesecloth from Cheesecloth.com. The ricotta cheese is simple, pure, and made from totally natural ingredients. I will be making this again and again and again. I have found a new appetizer that really packs a punch and is amazingly smooth and creamy at the same time! It’s so easy to do – try this fun little science experiment, make your own Homemade Ricotta Cheese on Toasts with Tomatoes, and be the hit of your next party!

 

 

 

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Almond Bark Popcorn

I love popcorn and I love almond bark, so this Almond Bark Popcorn is perfect for me or anyone – for any occasion. A lot of people make this during the holidays, but I think it would also be a great Back-to-School or Back-to-College snack or treat. It might even be nice for a last-minute Labor Day gathering. For this batch, I used multi-colored sprinkles, but you can always change the sprinkles to make it holiday appropriate, not matter what holiday you’re celebrating. It’s delicious, it’s festive, it’s pretty, and it’s EASY – the perfect way to end our “Nothing But Easy Summer”! I know there are a lot of versions of this recipe all over the internet, but I sort of made this one up – it was pretty easy to figure out. I’m glad I decided to make this treat, so everyone can look it up here and make their own. They may decide to make more than one batch – one for themselves and one to share! Or maybe two for themselves and one to share! It’s so fast and easy to make – anyone could make it!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Almond Bark Popcorn

Put into a large bowl:

one bag of store-bought, salted popcorn

Melt:

2-3 squares of almond bark, depending on how coated you want the popcorn

Sprinkle on:

2-3 Tablespoons of sprinkles of your choice

Pour coated popcorn out onto baking sheets to cool and dry.

Put immediately into an airtight container and HIDE IT!

This snack uses simple ingredients: Store-bought popcorn, almond bark, and sprinkles. I only say “store-bought” popcorn because it’s nicely salted and you get that amazing sweet-n-salty thing going on – salty popcorn and sweet almond bark. You can totally used air-popped or your own kind of popcorn, but I vote for the already salted kind.

I melted the almond bark in my glass measuring cup, fully intending to pour the almond bark out and onto the popcorn with that. Guess what? Too thick. I ended up using the small spatula to plop the almond bark onto the popcorn.

It’s hard to see the white almond bark against the white popcorn, but it’s there. After topping the popcorn with the almond bark, I mixed it thoroughly with a spoon or spatula.

Last but not least, I added a few tablespoons of sprinkles to the almond bark moistened popcorn and mixed it again. The sprinkles stick to the popcorn and gives it a bit of a crunch. Oh boy.

One thing that I didn’t like about this popcorn – it got a bit soggy from the wet almond bark. I let it sit until the almond bark was dried on the popcorn, but it was still a bit soggy. While that could be from it being a humid summer day, it didn’t seem to bother anyone who tried this snack later. It still disappeared pretty fast.

Ok – so just a head’s up. This stuff is crazy addictive. I mean it. I wasn’t being totally serious in the first paragraph where I was saying someone would maybe make one batch and then I kiddingly said, well maybe they would make two batches, but whoa. You’re gonna make more than one batch. Don’t even bother making only one batch for your students – that would be just mean. Make several batches of this Almond Bark Popcorn – just to be on the safe side – you won’t be sorry!

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Canadian Bars

Why did they name these delicious bars Canadian Bars? I had no idea until I looked online for more Canadian Bars recipes and found the same recipe called Nanaimo Bars, named for the city in British Columbia. It’s practically the exact same recipe. Who knew? They are just one more no-bake treat to try before the summer is over. This has been a hot one, and we all know August and even September can also be hot. Summer’s not over yet, and there are still reasons to need a delicious no-bake treat. Because summer’s not over yet, I wanted to share this photo of some of Grandma’s family. Her mother and aunt and oldest sister are in the middle, along with various other family members. They look like they are truly enjoying the beautiful summer day. I love this photo so much, with the ladies wearing their high collared blouses and long skirts.

I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded having some no-bake recipes back then – those wood fired stoves that they had to use must have made the kitchen and house incredibly hot! Turning on the oven in our houses NOW can make the kitchen and house incredibly hot. So I’m glad I found just one more no-bake (it actually says unbaked) recipe from another of Grandma’s old church cookbooks to end the summer!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Canadian Bars

Mix together:

5 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup butter, softened

5 Tablespoons sugar

1 egg

Beat over boiling water until butter melts.

Add:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup coconut

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

Pour mixture into 9″ x 13″ pan.

Cover with the following mixture:

1/4 cup butter

3 Tablespoons milk

2 Tablespoons Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding mix

2 cups powdered sugar

Let stand 15 minutes to firm up.

Spread with:

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (you can use 1 package chocolate chips – I did)

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

This recipe has ingredients that you probably have in your cupboard.

The bottom layer is full of goodies!

The second layer barely covered the bottom crust. I’m beginning to think that even though the recipe calls for a 9″ x 13″ pan, I maybe should have used an 8″ x 8″ pan instead.

The top layer of chocolate did cover the second layer.

See how thin the bars are? When I looked up the other recipes and found the Nanaimo Bars, they were thicker.

While not a thick bar, these are definitely delicious and are a great no-bake option for a hot summer day. I might try using the smaller pan next time, to see how that goes. I have no doubt that before submitting the recipe for the old church cookbook, someone decided that they could get more bars and make them go further if they used a larger pan. Either way, they’re easy to make and really delicious. Try something new before this hot summer’s over – these no-bake Canadian Bars!

 

 

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Garden Salad

My mom had this Garden Salad recipe, and it’s perfect for this time of the summer – August and September – here in Minnesota because it includes all the vegetables that are ready to pick right now in our gardens. I mean, who doesn’t like a good garden salad this time of the summer? Both of my sets of grandparents had gardens, and we had one, too. I loved this time of year when things were ripe and ready to pick (that’s why I love Farmer’s Markets so much – that works, too). We’d all go out and pick boxes full of tomatoes, onions, green peppers, zucchini, carrots, green beans, and pumpkins. One year my mom decided to grow cabbage, and after a bout with some big green caterpillars found in them after they were picked, we never grew those again. When you grow a garden, you end up with a lot of vegetables ready to pick all at the same time, and in addition to freezing or canning the vegetables (and back when we were kids, we canned and froze A LOT), we look for salads and dishes that use those vegetables RIGHT NOW, when they’re fresh and sweet and juicy and ripe and . . . ok, ok. Whew. Guess I get carried away with the garden vegetable thing. This is one of those recipes – one of those salads.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Garden Salad

Cook according to package instrucitons:

1-7 ounce package of ring pasta (I used a half of a 1 pound box of the large rings)

Drain and cool.

Combine:

1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

Combine in a large bowl:

1 small head of cabbage, finely chopped (I shredded the cabbage)

1/2 green pepper, finely chopped

1 large cucumber, finely chopped

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped

Fold together dressing, pasta, and vegetables.

Refrigerate, covered, several hours or overnight.

I shredded the cabbage (out of habit, I think) instead of chop it, but next time I’d just chop it so all the vegetables are the same shape.

When chopping the cucumber, I left the seeds in the first half until I remembered to use a small spoon and run it down the middle of the cucumber to take out the seeds. Nobody wants a runny salad.

Here we are, all ready to fold it all together.

I’m pretty sure someone decided to stretch this salad, at some point, by adding the pasta. Good idea!

Oh yum.

What a great side dish. You get to use some of your garden vegetable abundance, while enjoying a delicious, creamy, sweet and sour kind of salad. This salad would go perfectly with any main from sandwiches to pork chops to steak or burgers. If you have an over abundant garden right now, you’re going to want to make up a big batch of this Garden Salad – enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Peach Pie Popsicles

Peach Pie Popsicles – say that 5 times fast! That’s what we’re making today – and they’re a treat you’re gonna want to make over and over again. I’ve tried a lot of different popsicles over the past couple of years (since buying an actual popsicle mold), and when my husband tasted these, he made the statement, “best yet”! Ok! Let’s share the recipe with all of you lucky people! It’s peach season, so make a big batch of these to last until the heat of summer subsides.

I’ve shared this photo before, but popsicles always make me think of this photo of my mom and her cousins eating popsicles. How classic is this?

They were all sure working those popsicles like there was no tomorrow! What a great way to keep cool in the summer! So cute!

When me and my sister were growing up, we would devour an entire crate of peaches every August. We would make peach crisp, peach jam, and peach pie. What better way to use even more peaches than by making peach popsicles?! Peach Pie Popsicles, even! I don’t know why we didn’t think of making nice, icy cold popsicles back then instead of turning on the oven and roasting in our non air-conditioned house while all those other desserts baked in the oven! I’ll be making these popsicles every August when the peaches are ripe from now on!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Pie Popsicles

Put all in blender:

2 fresh peaches or 2 cups frozen peaches (I have used both kinds and they were equally delicious)

1 1/2-2 cups almond milk or skim milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 T raw honey, or to taste

Put into each popsicle section in mold:

1/4 crumbled graham cracker

Taste to make sure it tastes like peach pie – or at least tastes good to you.

Freeze.

I don’t have too many photos of this process since it’s only putting everything in a blender and blending it. Then I just crumbled 1/4 of a graham cracker into each hole of the popsicle mold and poured the mixture in. I never use the lid with the slits for the sticks in it – I can never get the sticks out without a wrestling match. I just set my timer to 30 minutes and the popsicles are usually frozen enough for the sticks to stand up. If not, I go in 15 minute increments until it’s thick enough. If you don’t have a mold, just use some small paper cups or any kind of small cup.

The graham crackers don’t stay crisp, but they add the perfect flavor to add to that peach pie thing. These popsicles are so good and give you that wonderful peach flavor we all crave this time of the summer. You AND your kids are gonna love these Peach Pie Popsicles!

 

 

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Potato Packets on the Grill

We’re grilling today, and we’re making Potato Packets on the Grill! We used to make packets like this to grill back in the 1970s at the lake where we lived. Today I’m just showing how to make the packets with potato and onion, but once in awhile we’ll add sliced carrots to them. I know they used to be called Hobo Dinners (or something like that) when you’d also add hamburger in there, but we didn’t usually do that. The possibilities for grilling things in foil are endless, but today we just need a side dish in foil. I don’t use a written out recipe for this, I have always just made this up. I know some people don’t like cooking with foil, but we really don’t do this very often. My family always loved when I made these, so I hope you try them and you’re family will like them, too!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Potato Packets on the Grill

Pile on each square of foil (making 1 per person):

1 potato, sliced

a few slices of onion

a pat of butter or splash of olive oil – you don’t want the potatoes to stick to the foil

salt and pepper

fresh thyme leaves (I used the herbs from the pot on my deck) or any other fresh herbs, if desired

Keeping the vegetables as flat as possible, seal the edges and ends of the foil to make a packet. Sealing the edges keeps the steam in the packet and helps the potato cook more evenly. Keeping the potatoes flat in the packet helps them cook faster.

Lay packets on grill for a bit before grilling your main dish – about 10-15 minutes total. You could put them over the hot part of the grill first, but then move them to the cool part of the grill to keep warm while you grill your main event. We didn’t flip the packets, but if you feel the need to do that, go ahead – that might make for a nice browning on both sides of the packet.

Cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes or slice them if you want to (you can peel them, but I didn’t here). Then slice the onion and get your herbs ready.

Put all ingredients into the middle of the foil square.

Roll the middle edge of the foil, then the sides to make a packet.

Here are the packets all ready for the grill. My husband grilled these for about 10-15 minutes total, but if you’re worried they’re not done, open them up a bit and prick with a fork or knife and make sure they’re tender. If not, throw them back on the grill for a few more minutes. It will all depend on how hot your grill is and how long you have them on there.

I served the potatoes with a grilled ribeye and green beans from our garden, and I had to add a few cherry tomatoes from the pot on our deck, too! Um – yum! You can find the recipe for the Compound Butter here – it’s great on steak!

It’s fun to make these potatoes to serve with whatever you’re grilling. Kids will love to help make these and see how they turn out – delicious! Let me know if you try these and what other vegetables you try! Have fun – this is what summer’s all about! Next time you’re grilling, go ahead – have some fun – and try these easy and delicious Potato Packets on the Grill!

 

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Pineapple Frosted Cake

The name of today’s recipe, Pineapple Frosted Cake, sounds like somehow there is pineapple in the frosting. That’s not entirely true. The pineapple is one of it’s layers, and it’s frosted with Cool Whip. This dessert is layered with ALL KINDS of goodness: cake, cream cheese and pudding, pineapple, and Cool Whip. I can’t even. I don’t have the card on here for this one because it was one I had written down. It was in my mom’s recipe file, but written in my handwriting. I have no idea where it came from or where I had it, but I’m sure glad I wrote it down, and I’m glad mom kept it! Let’s just get on with it – it’s soooooooooooo good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pineapple Frosted Cake

Bake:

1 white cake mix, according to package instrucitons

Cool.

Cream together:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 cups milk

Add:

1 package Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding

Spread on top of cooled cake.

Drain:

1-20 ounce can crushed pineapple

Spread evenly over top of cream cheese mixture.

Top with:

1 small tub of Cool Whip

Sprinkle on:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used sprinkles instead – my family aren’t big fans of nuts)

Refrigerate.

Before you start, bake the white cake and drain the pineapple.

The cream cheese was not totally smooth after mixing it together. It really didn’t matter since there will be other layers of goodness on top of it.

The next layer is the crushed pineapple. I just used my hands to sprinkle it evenly over the top of the cake and cream cheese/pudding layers.

The last layer is Cool Whip and nuts, however, my family isn’t big on nuts, so I used sprinkles instead. How festive! Sprinkles make everything look like it’s time for a party!

It’s ridiculous how delicious this cake is when you know how easy it was to make.

You can see the different layers of goodness here, and I do mean goodness! I think this cake would be delicious with many kinds of fruit: cut-up strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges. It’s perfect for our “Nothing But Easy Summer”, too, because this is so easy to make. I mean, this cake is ridiculously easy to make. This would also be great to take anywhere – if you were asked to bring a dessert. You could make the cake ahead of time (or even in the freezer), have the cream cheese/pudding layer mixed, have the pineapple drained, have the Cool Whip thawed, and have the nuts chopped. Just put it all together when you get to your gathering and you’re done! I love that! Yep – you’re all ready with an idea when your hostess asks you to bring a dessert – just bring this Pineapple Frosted Cake and you’re good to go!

 

 

 

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4 Delicious Kinds of Ice Cream to Beat the Heat!

It’s summertime, it’s hot, I love ice cream, and today I’m sharing some past posts of 4 Delicious Kinds of Ice Cream to Beat the Heat. If you can’t eat ice cream in the middle of the hot, hot, summertime, I don’t know when you WOULD eat it. There’s something for everyone here! Pick one – or all – of these delicious recipes and make a nice, cool, ice cream treat for your and your family!

Lemon Sherbet

 

Homemade Ice Cream and Root Beer Floats

 

2 Ingredient Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream

 

Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream

 

 

 

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The New Vintage Kitchen

A Vermont innkeeper's collection of vintage recipes, reimagined for today's cooks.

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