Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Pumpkin Bread

Can you really ever have too many recipes for Pumpkin Bread? I think not. My son doesn’t think so, anyway, since pumpkin bread of any kind is his absolute favorite! I’ve made Moist Pumpkin Bread and Pumpkin Raisin Bread on Plenty Sweet Life – who can say which one is the best? All 3 of them are absolutely delicious! The pumpkin bread that this recipe makes is pumpkin-y and spicy and very tasty. There’s nothing easier to make for your afternoon coffee or tea, than a quick bread. This time of year, there’s nothing we all like more than pumpkin. Well, pumpkin bread is perfect – on both counts. It’s great from the beginning of September until the end of November – make a batch, put it in the freezer, and you’re good to go whenever you know you have guests coming (or even unexpected guests).

Cream together:

1/3 cup butter

1 1/2 cup sugar

Add:

2 eggs

Sift together:

1 2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine with butter mixture.

Mix in:

1/3 cup water

1 cup pumpkin puree

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

The recipe card didn’t say if this was batter for one loaf or if it was enough for two. Since it said to bake for 1 hour and 20 miutes, I decided that must mean that it was only one loaf.

Oh wow does this smell good baking!

Ugh! Man, I hate when this happens!

I just took out the pieces and put them in where they belong.

See – you can’t even tell there’s a problem on the bottom! If the pieces end up coming off when you slice the bread, just act as if the delicious crumbs were meant to come off like that!

You can see the pieces that stuck in the pan (and I so gently placed back on the loaf) coming off here on the bottom of the slices. Cook’s treat – or they just go with the slice. Yum. This bread is fragrant and spicy and so delicious – especially when slathered with nice, soft butter! You’re going to want to enjoy this pumpkin bread with a nice cup of coffee or a nice cup of hot apple cider or even a nice cup of Hot Chocolate. Who cares how you decide to enjoy it? Just make this spicy Pumpkin Bread and enjoy the fall and all the spice it brings!

 

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Drying and Freezing Herbs

Fresh herbs are just the best when they’re available in the summer, and I want to keep them around all winter, too, by Drying and Freezing Herbs. I like to keep a pot of herbs on my deck so I can just go out and cut them whenever I need them. I have posted about my Herb Pots before, and if you check out that post, you can see how they SHOULD look. This summer was a very weird one for weather here in Minnesota. We had a cool, rainy, late spring and then the summer was pretty wet and then August into September was cooler than usual. Whatever the weather and whatever the reason, my herbs just did not do well this year. I tried moving them around, thinking maybe they weren’t getting enough sun (the trees in our yard have grown to ridiculous heights and are now casting way too much shade). That didn’t help. They really did look pretty good earlier in the summer, but then the pots got too much rain, and some of the herb leaves turned yellow. Most of them don’t look too bad at this point, they just didn’t grow very much – they stayed pretty small. I still want to preserve some to use this winter – herbs are so expensive to buy fresh – every little bit helps!

Here is my big pot of herbs. This pot is usually FULL of herbs by this time of year. At one point, I thought I wouldn’t have ANY to dry or freeze this year, but they came back somewhat during the last few weeks.

This is the mint. I told you – too much rain! And look at how it ended up with flowers on it. I keep the mint in its own pot so it doesn’t take over everything else – it grows like crazy. To be fair, there isn’t great drainage in this pot – it’s an antique crock.

This is my pathetic basil. I seriously at one point never thought it would look THIS good! Ugh! Not enough to dry this year – there’s always NEXT YEAR!

The rosemary looks great – there’s just not a lot of it. While I’ll dry this when we get further into fall, I’ll try to keep it in the pot until first frost – maybe even longer.

This is the sage, and while it’s not very big, it looks pretty good. I’ll also dry this later in the fall.

The thyme is one of the worst with the yellow leaf thing. I just have to believe it’s because of too much rain. But it looks pretty good, and this is after cutting some to dry already.

Now we come to the beast. This is my chive BUSH down in the garden! It’s HUGE!!! Everyone I know has gotten a bunch of this to plant at their home, and I send cuttings of it home with people all the time. It will last a week or two if you put it in a glass of water like a flower bouquet. I have already frozen some for the winter and also made a batch of Chive Blossom Vinegar with the pretty purple blossoms from this plant.

I had to put this photo of one of my hasta blossoms in here, too, just because. đŸ™‚

To preserve the chives and mint, I chopped chive stalks and mint leaves and put them into a couple of old ice cube trays, filled them with water, and froze the cubes. Then the cubes went into freezer zip top bags, were labeled, and hustled into the freezer for use this winter. When it comes time to use them, I’ll thaw the cubes on a piece of paper towel until the herbs are free from the ice and ready to use.

I filled the cubes pretty full of herbs.

I’ve never tried this with mint before. I’m hoping the leaves will thaw perfectly and will be useable just as they are once they’re free from the ice.

For the thyme (later I’ll do the same for the rosemary and sage), I cut the stems, put rubber bands around the ends, and used an unbent paper clip to slide through the rubber band and hang on my pot rack. If you’re concerned that they may get covered in dust while drying, you can put a piece of tissue paper or paper towel around the stems and over the leaves to protect them. I think these will dry fast enough so I don’t need to do that. Well, I have a few to save for using this winter. I hope to make some Compound Butter or maybe some Herbed Cheese Spread (btw – this post is where you can see how the herbs looked in July as opposed to how they look now – they looked great then!) before drying or freezing all of them.

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Cheese-and-Herb Scones

This is a recipe for Cheese-and-Herb Scones off of some ripped out magazine pages I’ve had for years, from which I’ve made several recipes: Chocolate Chip Scones, Maple Pecan Scones, and Sesame-Orange Scones. My goal is to make all of these recipes at some point, so I’m on recipe #4 and counting. I love scones, don’t you? Seriously – there’s nothing better than warm scones, fresh out of the oven, slathered in melty butter, and jam. Oh my goodness. Maybe I should go work on recipe #5 right now! Ha! Ok, ok, I’ll leave that for another day. Let’s get on with this recipe. This one’s a little bit different from your regular type of scone. It’s a savory one – not one that you’d slather with butter and jam. Well, I’d still slather it with butter, but I think it’s more the type you’d serve with Grandma’s Tomato Soup and salad instead of a breakfast or tea time treat. These scones are a lot like the Cheese Muffins recipe that my mother-in-law gave me – you should try that recipe, too!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cheese-and-Herb Scones

In a large bowl combine:

4 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Cut in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs:

2/3 cup vegetable shortening (I used butter)

Stir in:

3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Add:

1 1/3 cup milk

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

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

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

Divide dough in half.

With lightly floured rolling pin, roll one half of dough into a 7 inch round.

Cut into 4 wedges.

Repeat with remaining half of dough.

Place scones, 1 inch apart, on greased baking sheet.

Pierce tops with tines of fork.

Brush tops with water and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

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

The savory part of these scones – the herbs added instead of sugar!

This is what it looks like when the butter is cut in – it does look like coarse crumbs.

I mixed the milk and the mustard together before adding them to the mixture.

Mix it together to make a soft dough and onto the floured surface, ready to knead.

After kneading, the next step is to divide the dough in half and roll it into a 7 inch round.

I cut the scones into 6 pieces instead of 4, just because 4 seemed like they’d be a bit large. Do this with the other half of the dough, too.

Onto the baking sheet, prick the tops with a fork, brush with water, and sprinkle on the remaining shredded cheese. I’m sure I used more than 1/4 of a cup for the topping. How bad can it be to add even more shredded cheese?

O.M.G. These smelled SOOOOO good baking!

These savory scones would be nice as an egg sandwich for breakfast, or they’d be great with Grandma’s Tomato Soup and a salad for lunch, or they’d be awesome plain slathered with the obligatory melty butter. The cheese and herbs make them absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and I’m not even kidding. You’d better make a batch of these today, because you and your family are gonna LOVE these Cheese-and-Herb Scones!

 

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Spinach Dip

We’re going back to the 80’s today with this Spinach Dip. It was the 80’s wasn’t it, where this dip showed up at every gathering everybody went to – EVERYWHERE? I think we just got sick of it, because we had it so much, but it’s so delicious and tasty! We should bring it back – cuz it’s so easy to make and it’s so good and good for you and – why not? This recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, who got it from her daughter, who just happens to be my godmother. Got all that? Good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spinach Dip

Mix all together:

1-10 ounce package frozen spinach, chopped and drained

1 can water chestnuts, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped, white and green parts

1 pint sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 package dry vegetable soup mix

Refrigerate overnight or several hours.

I thawed the frozen spinach, drained it, and then put it into a tea towel and twisted it to squeeze all the water out. We don’t want your dip to be runny or too wet.

I flattened out the spinach on the cutting board, cut one way and then cut it the other way, all the way across to make small pieces.

This takes a little bit of chopping, but it really is a fast and easy dip.

These are pretty simple ingredients.

Mix it all together, and it’s ready to go.

!!!Warning!!! – Do not, I repeat, DO NOT serve this right away. It needs to sit overnight (that’s best) or at least several hours. It has to have time for the flavors to meld and get all yummy and delicious. That’s why this is in the “Make Ahead” category.

You can serve this with any fresh veggies like I did here – with snap peas, carrots, cherry tomatoes. Or like the recipe says, you can serve it with – potato chips or sour dough bread.

Everybody’s into bringing back the 80’s, and that includes the weird clothes, the funky music, and the amazingly delicious food. This is so typically 80’s – I say we start with bringing this Spinach Dip back – don’t you agree?!!!

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Country Pie

I found this recipe for Country Pie in one of Grandma’s old cookbooks – it was submitted by one of Grandma’s sisters, who originally got it from her daughter – who just happens to be my mom’s cousin and my godmother. This cousin is the one who grew up so close – close in age, close in proximity, and close in relationship. They always say they were more like sisters than cousins, even though my mom is a year older. This is a photo of the two of them dressed alike. I love how their parents always used a nice backdrop for their photos! Ha! They have the same dresses, and hair bows, and even their hair is styled the same!

They were great friends – still are! They were just so stinkin’ cute – still are!

As for the recipe – it was submitted to the church cookbook, but I also found the handwritten copy of the same recipe from Grandma’s sister. I love those old recipes, so I put the recipe card in here instead of the recipe from the cookbook. This was a great dish I made when our daughter was over for lunch on a Sunday before a Minnesota Vikings game, but it would be an nice week-night meal, too – easy to do and delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Country Pie

For the crust:

1 pound lean ground beef – not cooked or browned – yes, raw

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko crumbs)

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano (I went crazy and added 1/4 teaspoon – I could have used more than that)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 of a small green pepper, chopped

For the filling:

1 1/2 cup Minute Rice

1 cup water

1 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used a 15 oz can of tomato sauce total – close enough)

1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all together (except 1/4 cup cheese for top).

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Uncover, top with remaining cheese, and bake another 15 minutes (after uncovering, I baked it an additional 20 minutes – to make sure beef was fully cooked – before putting cheese on top).

I know it sounds a little strange to use uncooked ground beef, and I thought so, too, but it works! This is the crust, so I just patted it into the pie pan as if it was a pie crust. It’s more like a meatloaf crust layer.

Next, I poured in the filling – and yes! It all goes in!

I forgot to show that I covered the pie with foil. Luckily – and I DO mean luckily – I had just cleaned my oven!

After the baking it covered, I didn’t feel comfortable with how the beef still looked a bit pink, so I left it in for another 20 minutes or so.

Then, on went the shredded cheese and back into the oven it goes! I may have used more than 1/4 cup of cheese on the top – I like it cheesy.

It came out all bubbly and cheesy and delicious! My daughter and I were brainstorming about this recipe – you’ll probably see more variations of this one down the road!

That meatloaf type crust and the rice filled filling – yum! I would let this sit for 10-15 minutes before serving next time. There was a bit of liquid that wasn’t absorbed into the pie when I cut it for the first slice, but when we went back for seconds, it had.

This was an amazingly delicious lunch, but I just can’t help think it would be a great weeknight dinner – it’s pretty fast to pull together! I served it with a bit of sour cream and some chives from my garden, but ketsup and green onions would be good, too. I think this may just become a staple in this household – I hope you’ll try this Country Pie and make it a staple in your household, too!

 

 

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Pumpkin Muffins and Make Your Own Pumpkin Pie Spice

When making Pumpkin Muffins, you also need Pumpkin Pie Spice. Why not have your cake and eat it too? Mainly, this is necessary here because I was totally out of pumpkin pie spice after last year’s fall baking season, and I wasn’t going to buy it last year for making delicious pumpkin pie spice tasting things this year. However, I didn’t realize I was out (or I should say I didn’t remember I was out) until halfway through making these delicious Pumpkin Muffins. Well, if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, I’m famous for being out of ingredients needed to make some of these recipes and because I don’t want to take the time to run out and get said ingredient when in the middle of a recipe, I’ll just try and use something else or make my own. Hence, the recipe for making your own Pumpkin Pie Spice. It’s fall, and with the popularity of pumpkin pie spice EVERYTHING, I go through a LOT of it. Instead of running out, I’d like to be able to make my own and always be able to have it on hand. I mean, who wouldn’t? We can’t have people running out of pumpkin pie spice – what would we do? The world just might collapse. Seriously. Once I started to make these muffins, I realized that it was a HEALTHY muffin recipe. Now, I found this recipe in my mom’s recipe box, and I have absolutely no idea why she would have had a HEALTHY muffin recipe. She’s not known for making healthy recipes – she has the family sweet tooth! I have made a couple of other healthy pumpkin recipes on the blog, 2 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins and Healthy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins, but I’m always willing to try one more.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Mix together:

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

You can always tweak these amounts depending on what you like – if you like it more cinnamon-y, add more cinnamon, etc.

You can change the ratio – if you need more spice, you just make a bigger batch. You might want to make a HUGE batch to last you all the way through pumpkin pie spice season.

Use what you need and store the rest in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Muffins

Mix and set aside:

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cup white flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Whisk together:

3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I used non-fat yogurt)

3 large eggs

1 cup turbinado sugar

Mix until just moistened.

Put batter into muffin tins (recipe says 12 jumbo muffins, but I made regular sized muffins).

Sprinkle tops with:

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Cool in pans 5 minutes.

Mix all the dry ingredients together first.

Next, mix the wet ingredients.

Now mix them together.

I made regular sized muffins instead of jumbo ones.

The aroma of these babies baking – OMG!

These muffins are so good AND good for you – you’re gonna love ’em! Your family will love ’em, too! You’re friends will also love ’em! Make a batch to keep in your freezer – bring them out when you need a quick breakfast or an afternoon snack – whatever you need them for, they’ll be ready to go. This is the first pumpkin pie spice recipe of the season – try these delicious and healthy Pumpkin Muffins!

 

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BBQ Sauce for Chicken and Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

A high school friend gave me this recipe for BBQ Sauce for Chicken about 30 years ago, and it’s delicious on any kind of chicken, but it’s especially good on Grilled Chicken Sandwiches. BBQ Sauce for Chicken sounds like it would be a ketchup type of sauce, but this is something just a little bit different. This sauce is lemon and oil based, and it’s very flavorful on the chicken. Grilling doesn’t have to stop just because summer is over. We grill year-round (except when it’s REALLY cold, maybe -20 degrees or so), but sometimes it’s nice to grill things in advance for having at a moment’s notice. We grill chicken breasts a lot to keep in the freezer for nights when we don’t have time to grill and we get a hankerin’ for a grilled chicken salad, grilled chicken wrap, or chicken tacos. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but I’m going to get a batch of chicken ready using this BBQ Sauce for Chicken and have it in the freezer and ready to make Grilled Chicken Sandwiches! Duh.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

BBQ Sauce for Chicken

Combine:

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)

1/2 teaspoons rosemary leaves

1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

dash of pepper

dash of paprika

Add to the marinade:

1 pound of chicken breast tenders (I used regular chicken breasts which I cut in half the thick way – chicken breasts are waaaay too thick for sandwiches – you can use any kind of chicken for this if you’re not making sandwiches)

Marinate in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes and/or brush onto chicken before and during grilling.

Grill chicken.

To make the sandwiches, pile on the fixins’:

Ciabatta rolls (or any kind of rolls you like)

Tomato slices

Lettuce leaves

Provolone cheese

Mayonnaise:

1/2 cup of mayo with 1 Tablespoon Sriracha Sauce

and/or

1/2 cup mayo with 1 Tablespoon mustard (I used good old yellow mustard for this) and 1 Tablespoon honey

I used fresh herbs because I have them growing on my deck, but you can use dried if you prefer.

When I had everything for the BBQ sauce ready to go, I put it all in a jar and just shook it up.

I put the chicken into a zip top bag and poured the BBQ sauce in (I had a lot of chicken here, so I doubled the sauce recipe). The chicken went into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to marinate.

The more fixins’, the better! I used tomato slices (from our garden), lettuce leaves, provolone cheese, and flavored mayo.

Oh boy – there’s nothing like melted cheese on TOP of the delicious BBQ Sauce marinated chicken.

I love anything grilled, but these sandwiches really are the best! The sauce is delicious, the chicken is delicious, and the sandwiches are delicious. Grill up a batch of chicken tenders to freeze for later or enjoy today, using this BBQ Sauce for Chicken, and make some Grilled Chicken Sandwiches before summer is over and we end up grilling in the snow – or -20 degrees, whichever comes first.

 

 

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Iced Cocoa with Cinnamon

Iced Cocoa with Cinnamon is a recipe that I got from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks, and I think it’s perfect for a first-day-of-school back-to-school after-school snack. Since today’s the first day of school here in Minnesota, this is a great day to share this after school treat. I LOVED the first day of school when I was growing up. There is just something about shopping for back-to-school supplies – I even enjoyed it when I got to shop for those supplies when MY kids were in school. There were definitely years when money was tight, and with three kids to get supplies for, it took a lot of organization and dedication. Even now, I still shop for school supplies when they start to have certain things on sale weeks before school starts. I have waaaayy too many supplies in my desk and office cupboards at this very moment – glue sticks, notebooks, pens, markers, scissors. It’s just my thing. Like after school snacks. I loved it when my other grandma (who babysat me after school grades K-2 until my parents came home from work) made me after school snacks and I became adept at making my own after school snacks when I was a latch-key kid from grades 3-12. When I had my own kids in school, I always tried to make sure they had after school snacks when they got home hungry from a great day of filling their brains to the brim with non-essential and some essential information. One of their favorites was Graham Crackers with Frosting, but I know if I had seen this recipe back then, they would have loved this snack, too. It does involve cocoa, whipped cream and sprinkles, after all!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Iced Cocoa with Cinnamon

Mix in a 2-quart saucepan:

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 cup sugar

dash of salt

3 cups skim milk

Stir over medium heat until cocoa is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil.

Remove from heat.

Add:

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour into a heat-proof pitcher and chill for 4 hours or more.

The recipe says, for extra coolness, put the glasses into the freezer to chill while the cocoa is chilling.

To serve I poured the cocoa over ice and garnished with a squirt of canned whipped cream and sprinkles.

These are totaly simple ingredients that everyone has in their cupboard.

The cocoa doesn’t mix in very well until the milk warms up. It looks a bit gnarly at first.

Once the milk comes to a boil, the cocoa mixes in and it’s time to add the vanilla and cinnamon.

Once the flavorings are added, put it into a heat-proof pitcher to chill. I used my big 4 cup measuring cup.

I didn’t chill the glasses, but I did add some ice.

Next it was time for a squirt of whipped cream and some rather festive sprinkles. Once school starts, it’s time to break out the fall colors.

Oooh! So pretty!

This iced cocoa is “plenty sweet”, but it’s great for a first-day-of-school back-to-school after-school treat. Starting school can be traumatic after a long summer of running amok. Your kids will think you’re pretty awesome when you make them an after-school treat on the first day back-to-school. You should make them this festive and delicious Iced Cocoa with Cinnamon – they’ll love it!

 

 

 

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