Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Banana Cream Pie

Today I’m sharing how I make Banana Cream Pie! My dad loved pie, and recently my sister and I were talking about it – which WAS his favorite –  was it Banana Cream Pie or Coconut Cream Pie? Neither of us could remember, so when I went shopping for the ingredients, I only found Banana Cream Jello Pudding – I couldn’t find Coconut Cream Jello Pudding. So there it is – Banana Cream Pie MUST have been his favorite! Next week would have been his 80th birthday, so in his honor, I decided to make this pie. Here is a photo of him with his older brother and his older sister – he’s the baby. They all look so dressed up in this one! He looks like he’s about a year old here, so that makes this photo almost 80 years old! Is this kid just the sweetest, or what?!!! Look at those cheeks and the chubby little legs!

And what about his hair with the little part in it already?!! So cute! Well, you can tell by the cheeks on this baby that he’d grow up to love pie! 🙂 I used to make this pie for him when I was pretty little – that’s how easy this one is to make!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Banana Cream Pie

Prepare one pie crust – either graham cracker crust or regular baked pie crust. If using a regular pie crust, blind bake it until it’s fully baked. You can find out How To Blind Bake a Pie Crust in my last post.

Layer in bottom of prepared pie crust:

1-2 ripe bananas, sliced

Prepare according to package instructions:

1 package of Banana Cream Jello Pudding (I used the Cook-n-Serve kind, but in a pinch, you could also use Instant Pudding)

2 cups milk

Cool pudding.

Pour over top of bananas in crust (I made two layers of each: banana, pudding, banana, pudding – that makes more banana in each bite!).

Smooth the top of the pudding.


Top or serve with whipped cream.

Have one pie crust baked and ready to go. If you don’t know How To Blind Bake a Pie Crust, you can check it out here.

First slice up 1 banana and layer the slices in the bottom of the crust.

Next, layer on half of the banana cream pudding, then another banana, and then the other half of the pudding.

Here is the finished pie. My pudding got a bit lumpy because I tried to get the pudding to cool first. I don’t think that’s necessary. You can put it into the pie crust while it’s still warm – it’s going to go into the refrigerator to chill, anyway.

Chill the pie in the refrigerator for several hours (if you can wait that long).

I was going to have my daughter bring her brulee torch with her, but I forgot to call her. I tried to use the broiler to make a crust on top of the banana slices, but it didn’t work – don’t do this unless you like really soft and cooked banana slices. That didn’t go as planned, but it was still pretty – AND delicious. Next time, if I don’t borrow my daughter’s torch, I’d just put a plain slice on top.

This is seriously the easiest-pie-ever to make. It’s another recipe – if you want to call it a recipe – that checks all our boxes for easy to make and ridiculously delicious. Do me a favor and make this pie in honor of what would have been my dad’s 80th birthday. I’d love it if everyone made a Happy Birthday “toast” to him with a slice of this Banana Cream Pie!


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How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust

Today I’m going to share a technique for How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust. My kids are all living on their own now, and every once in a while, I get a phone call from one of the three asking how to do this or how to do that. This is one of those things that you don’t do very often, but when you need to know how to do it, you really need to know how to do it! If you don’t do it the right way, you may just end up with a puffy, unusable crust. That would just be totally unacceptable, because blind baking really isn’t hard, but it is sometimes necessary. I think this technique gives you a fairly smooth and useable pie crust every time.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust

Make a pie crust from your favorite recipe and chill it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I had one in the freezer (that’s why it’s in a foil pan – I don’t regularly use foil unless I’m taking it somewhere) so I just used that. The recipe I used was from a past post of Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust, but you could search and use any regular pie crust recipe (obviously, don’t use a graham cracker crust) here on Plenty Sweet Life. Don’t forget to “dock” the crust, which means to give the crust a few pokes with a fork. This is an important step because this helps the crust not puff up in the end.

Next get a piece of parchment paper (you could also use foil) to put inside the crust, and figure out what you’re going to use as a weight. You can buy ceramic pie weights, but I use a one pound bag of beans that I have been using for about 35 years. It was cheaper than ceramic weights and all we could afford at the time. Just make sure that you keep them in a jar (and label them so you don’t try to cook them), and you can use them again and again – for years! 🙂

Put the parchment over the crust and gently pour your pie weights or beans onto it. I usually gently make sure that they cover all the nooks and crannies – this is going to stop the crust from puffing.

Bake the crust at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Remove crust from the oven and take out the parchment and weights. Bake for another 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let the crust cool.

When you take out the pie weights or beans, let them cool right on the parchment.

I use the parchment to cool the beans, then just lift it by the edges and use it to pour the beans right back into the jar. You can see how long I’ve had these beans – the lid on the mayonnaise jar was metal!

Now your crust is ready for whatever delicious pie you want to make. Wasn’t that easy? Not hard to do at all! This crust was used to make a Banana Cream Pie. Stay tuned for that recipe in my next post! Make sure you keep this recipe handy for How To Blind Bake a Pie Crust, and you’ll always be ready for pie!




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Upside Down Cake

This recipe for Upside Down Cake comes from one of Grandma’s sisters. I can’t even say that it’s good – it’s got so much brown sugar on the top, it’s like candy – that’s how good it is! It’s amazingly delicious and it’s stupid easy to make – perfect! Just what we like! I know I’ve shared in past posts about how close Grandma and her family was, and that they had a lot of family gatherings/Sunday night suppers, even after they all married and had their own families, but I’d like to think that this cake was one of those things that was shared at one or more of those gatherings or Sunday night suppers. There is no baking temperature or time on this one – AGAIN – so I had to do a little internet research to find out at least how long to bake it. In doing so, I read that this cake was popular in the 1920’s-1930’s because that’s when canned pineapple started to be more readily available, especially here in frigid Minnesota. That’s about the time that Grandma’s siblings began to marry and start their own families, so I’m going to just go with that story! Let’s make this delicious/candy/simple cake!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Upside Down Cake

In a 9″ x 13″ pan (the recipe says a fry pan or cake pan, so I used a cake pan), sprinkle:

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

Place on top of sugar:

1 20 ounce can pineapple rings

maraschino cherries, in the middle of the rings (I only had enough cherries to cut in half and put in the middle, but if I hadn’t used the cherries left from holiday baking, I would just use the whole cherry)

Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat:

3 eggs


1 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons pineapple juice (I just used the just – or syrup – from the can)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

Pour batter on top of pineapple rings (the batter was thick, and there wasn’t a lot of it, so I used a spoon to get it on evenly, then spread it with a small offset spatula).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes (if you use a fry pan or smaller cake pan, you might need to leave it in for a bit longer – keep an eye on it).

Let cool on rack for 10 minutes.

Run a small knife around outside edge of cake.

Flip over onto serving platter and serve either warm or cold with whipped cream.

The recipe says to use a fry pan or cake pan. When getting ready to make this cake, I was looking at several cake recipes, so somewhere along the line I thought it said a 9″ x 13″ pan. Regardless, if you use a smaller pan (maybe a 9″ x 9″ or a cast iron fry pan), it’s a LOT of brown sugar – it was a lot of brown sugar for this larger cake pan. I melted the butter to make it easier to coat the pan before sprinkling on the brown sugar.

Now to make a pretty design with the pineapple and cherries. Technically, the recipe card doesn’t call for cherries, but I’ve always seen cherries inside the pineapple rings on these cakes, so I put them in. Luckily had just enough cherries left from holiday baking – just enough! The can of pineapple only had 10 rings, so I improvised by cutting two of them in half for the corners.

There are just a few ingredients for the cake batter – it just didn’t seem to make a LOT of batter.

I used a spoon to evenly put on the batter, then I smoothed it out with a small offset spatula. There is so little batter, you can see the pineapple rings through it! It barely covered!

After baking, you can still almost see the rings, but the cake looks delicious!

I don’t have a platter big enough to turn out a whole cake this size, so I just used one of my baking sheets. It all came out without sticking except for ONE pineapple ring. I just used a small knife to life it up and flip it over back on top of the cake.

Perfect – I won’t tell if you don’t! 🙂

This cake really is a thing of beauty. Seriously.

It’s almost like a candy with all that brown sugar melted on top! The cake might be a bit thin made in this big of a pan, but the family all agreed that it made for crispy edges and more of a caramel type topping. I have to admit that there was a bit of the brown sugar caramel left on the pan after flipping it upside down – I used a spatula and put that goodness on the corners since they got only half of a pineapple slice.

The recipe card says to serve it with whipped cream, so I had to oblige. I put it on the side so you could see the pretty cake and pineapple design. This is one of my new favorites – don’t tell me, you’ve heard that before! I know I say it all the time, but in this year of finding easy yet delicious recipes to make, this one checks ALL the boxes. It’s just SOOOOOO easy to make and it’s SOOOOOO delicious. Did I say it was delicious? I think I did. Anyway, this is going to be one of your new favorites, too, trust me – you’ve heard that before, too! Bring this Upside Down Cake to your next family gathering – you’ll be SOOOOOO loved!





Scone Bread

How good does Scone Bread sound? Scones are one of my favorite things, so it makes sense that Scone Bread would also be one of my favorite things. I’m here to tell ya that yes – this bread is just as delicious as regular scones.

Scones remind me of coffee, and when I think of coffee, I really always think of the smell in the basement of church. Grandma and Grandpa’s church, to be exact. I know – it’s a round-about way of getting to this, but the family was just reminiscing recently about that smell. My son is in a band, and they played at a fund raiser at a church. He was telling us that it had that same smell in the basement that was always in the basement of Grandma and Grandpa’s church. He’s also a blood donor, and he loves to donate at a church in a little town west of where we live. Why would he go to a small town that isn’t our own town to do that, you ask? Because the ladies who work the blood drive send the donors down to the basement to feed them bologna sandwiches on white bread and home baked bars, and that reminds him of Grandma and Grandpa. It’s the smell of the church basement (where the kitchen always is) with that smell of coffee brewing mixed with the smells of tuna sandwiches and baked sweets. They just go together. That’s nostalgia, and for most of us in this family, it’s the smell of childhood mixed with memories of beloved grandparents and great-grandparents. Our kids were so lucky to have not only known their great-grandparents, but had a loving and memorable relationship with them. You don’t see that every day. I’m so grateful for that and all the wonderful memories they have of them.

This Scone Bread does taste like a regular scone, and my husband and I took this loaf with us for a weekend at a friends’ cabin in Wisconsin. We enjoyed it toasted with butter and cherry jam AND a nice cup of coffee – heaven! Because its a lot like Irish Soda Bread, I’m sure it would also be delicious with Beef Stew, Chicken-Noodle Soup with Vegetables, or Chili.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Scone Bread

In a large bowl, combine:

3 cups flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

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

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)

Stir in optional ingredients (I added 2 teaspoons poppy seeds).

Add to dry ingredients:

1 1/4 cups buttermilk (*I think this should be 1 1/2 cups – more on that later)

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

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 times, until dough is smooth.

Shape into ball.

Place on greased baking sheet and pat into a 7 inch round.

With a sharp knife, make 1/8 inch cuts, scoring loaf into quarters.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until loaf is well browned and sounds hollow when tapped on top.

Cool on wire rack.

The recipe says it slices easier when stored in refrigerator wrapped in a damp cloth.


1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1-2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1-2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Sprinkle some seeds on top.

Again, simple ingredients = delicious!

After I mixed up the dry ingredients, I used my pastry blender to cut in the butter.

Next, in goes the buttermilk.

Using a fork works great to stir in the buttermilk.

Out onto a lightly floured surface to knead the dough. Does it look a bit dry?

This is what happened when I kneaded the dough. It was dry. Too dry. I did the unthinkable. I added another 1/4 cup of buttermilk (*this is what I mentioned above). Yes – AFTER kneading. Gasp! I wasn’t going to just throw it away – let’s just see what happens!

This is what happened. The buttermilk mixed in just fine, and while I’m sure purists will not love the texture after doing this, let’s just see.

Here it is on the pan. I might or might not have made the scoring more than 1/8″. This looks like I made it at least 1/4″.

Well, here’s the beautiful loaf after baking! Looks good to me! It does look a lot like Irish Soda Bread.

Oh my gosh – this smelled so good baking and so good AFTER baking. Yum.

Yeah – let’s just go ahead and spread on a little softened butter. Let’s just go ahead and let it get a bit melty. Uh-huh. Yep. Wow. I would also recommend putting this in the refrigerator and waiting a day – it’s a bit crumbly on top and when sliced, you lose some of those good bits. Try this with your favorite soup, or do what we did and enjoy it toasted with a nice cup of coffee. Either way, this Scone Bread is our new favorite, and it will be yours, too!




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Chocolate Fondue

I love Chocolate Fondue! It’s something that’s reserved for only once or twice a year, because boy oh boy – it’s a real treat! Valentine’s day would be one of those times when this special treat would be allowed and welcome. If you can’t make a special treat like this for your valentine, who would you ever make it for? It’s another recipe that’s quick to make, easy to do, and is – I mean, this totally goes without saying – amazingly delicious! It’s also tremendously romantical. Light a fire in the fireplace or light some candles, and start melting – the chocolate, I mean – come on!

Speaking of romantical, I’m sharing a photo of these two very special valentines today – my mom and dad – which was taken before they headed out to their senior prom in 1958. For some reason this photo has a pink tint to it – perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Don’t they just look like a perfect couple? She’s got on that beautiful pink gown with the white gloves to match and he’s looking pretty dapper in the white tux coat and bow tie! She was probably telling him what to do and he was giving her a hard time about it! Ha! Two and a half years after this was taken, they were married, dad was in the Army, and the first of their two bouncing baby girls was born – me! When I look at this photo of them and the room behind them, it tells so many stories of their life to come. Sigh. Such a sweet picture. Ok – on to this romantical treat!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Fondue

In a saucepan, heat on low:

1-1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi sweet)

1/3 cup milk (I used 2%)

1/3 cup heavy cream or half-n-half (I used half-n-half)

Stir often until chocolate is completely melted and smooth – do not boil.


1 teaspoon vanilla

Add more milk, if necessary, depending on how thin you want it.

Pour chocolate mixture into a fondue pot to keep warm.

Serve with dippers:




graham crackers



the list is endless here!

Such simple ingredients make an amzaing treat!

Melt the chocolate and the milk and cream in the saucepan, then into the fondue pot with it!

Here is my platter of dippers: Strawberries, pretzel chips, marshmallows, Nilla wafers, Oreos.

Here you can see how the bowl keeps warm – with the little tea light candle underneath. This is really, really easy to do and it’s so pretty. You may want to serve this for more people than just you and your valentine. They’ll be impressed and very, very happy.

The chocolate is so smooth, so pretty, so chocolatey!

This is it – time for the special, special treat for that very special, special valentine! Round up their favorite things to dip, make up a batch of the delicious chocolate, and get romantical. Your valentine will be so, so, so happy that you took the 10 minutes it takes to make this special Chocolate Fondue treat – just for them!



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6 Romantic Treats for Valentine’s Day

I’m gonna make your life easier and share 6 Romantic Treats for Valentine’s Day! They’re all easy to do, they’re all fun to make, and they’re all delicious. You can’t go wrong – no matter which you pick – your valentine will love them all!

Rolled Butter Cookies That Never Stick


Brownies #3


Valentine Meringues


Chocolate Truffles


Chocolate Fudge Squares


Bundt Cake


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Dipped Oreos

How cute are Dipped Oreos? You can dip them and decorate them and make them pretty for any holiday or occasion! I’m going to make them and decorate them for Valentine’s Day. That is the next holiday, right? I mean, seriously, these are the easiest, yet most festive holiday treat you can make. I’m being real here – these are the easiest EVER! You can use any color of candy melts to dip these, but I happened to have some almond bark left from making Christmas treats, so that’s what I’m using. You can really dip anything in almond bark, and decorate it appropriately for any occasion – pretzels are always fun to do or Ritz Cracker Cookies. You could even make and decorate some Almond Bark Cookies with holiday sprinkles. This time I’m using Oreo cookies to dip – let’s get festive!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Dipped Oreos

Melt according to package instructions:

1 package of almond bark (I only had 4 cubes left from a whole package, so that’s how much I made – you could also do this with chocolate)

Dip one or more of the following into melted almond bark (you can also push a lollipop stick into the cream part of the Oreo cookie to make these a lollipop – I’m leaving them plain):

Oreo cookies (this is what I’m using today)


peanut butter sandwiched between Ritz Crackers (Ritz Cracker Cookies)

anything you can think of and would like to dip in almond bark

Sprinkle with festive holiday sugars or sprinkles.

Let dry and harden on a parchment covered baking sheet.

I used my mom’s old mixer bowl to melt the almond bark – it keeps the almond bark warm and makes dipping easier. At this point, you could also color the almond bark, if you want to. Remember that you can’t use regular food coloring to color almond bark – you need to use powdered food coloring, or the almond bark will seize up and get lumpy or solidify. I just like how the white almond bark contrasts and shows off the pretty colored sprinkles better. Just use a fork, tap it on the edge of the bowl, and scrape the bottom of the cookie on the edge of the bowl. There really is nothing easier to dip than Oreo cookies, but dip whatever you want!

Once dipped, just set the almond bark covered cookies on the parchment lined baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with sugars or sprinkles.

I got about a dozen cookies from the 4 cubes of almond bark I used.

I just love little treats like this – they’re so pretty!

These are so easy to make, they’re so fun to do, and they’re sooooooo good! This is another ridiculously easy, yet festive way to celebrate any holiday or special occasion. Kids or grandkids would love to get involved and help make these – maybe for a special parent or grandparent?! Trust me your valentine is going to LOVE these Dipped Oreos.



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Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

I just found a way to make my husband’s day start in a more delicious way with Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches! This is the year that I want to get better at making things ahead and making my life and the lives of my family easier. My husband is famous for making egg sandwiches for our kids over the years. He made them for sleepovers, after sports practices and events, after choir concerts, after band concerts, after theater events, you name it. If someone came home hungry for any reason, he’d get out the fry pan and make up egg sandwiches for all. He still does (he’s such a pushover). Well, they do take some time to make – time he doesn’t have in the morning – so it’s not something he makes himself for breakfast very often. So instead of his usual quick breakfast of peanut butter smeared between two pieces of whole wheat bread (gulp – how can he even swallow?), I made a batch of these sandwiches he can grab for a good breakfast either before he heads to work, or on the way. This was so easy to do, I feel like I’ll be making these a lot. They’re so good we’ve found ourselves enjoying them for breakfast, but also for a light lunch, a snack, or a late dinner. Recipes for these are all over the internet – I kind of put my own twist on these.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

Whisk together:

12 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

splash of milk (maybe 2-3 Tablespoons)

At this point you could also add some sautéed onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, etc.- I’d do that next time.

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Cool and cut into 12 squares.


12 English muffins

Lay out the bottoms.

Layer on:

12 slices of cheese (I used cheddar)

12 pieces of your favorite breakfast meat – cooked bacon, Canadian bacon, ham, cooked sausage patty (I used bacon and ham for this batch)

the squares of cooked egg

English muffin tops

Wrap sandwiches in waxed paper and label with whatever is inside.

Freeze in zip top freezer bag labeled and dated.

The best way to serve – take out of freezer and thaw in refrigerator overnight. Don’t forget to take it out the night before!

Take sandwich out of waxed paper, wrap in paper towel, and place on a plate.

Microwave 1 minute on 50% power and then on high for 30 seconds.

You can thaw it in the microwave in the morning, but we’ve found that the sandwich doesn’t cook as evenly as when you take it out the night before.

It’s amazing how easy it is to cook eggs this way – and they don’t drip all over the front of your shirt when you bite into it and the yolk isn’t cooked through!

I just lined up the bottom of the English muffins and layered all the goodies on!

Wrap them up, but don’t forget to label what’s inside.

The next morning, wrap in a paper towel and it’s ready for the microwave.

There you go! The hubs is off to work and ready for the day! Carpe Diem! The egg and meat are warmed up and you can see how melty the cheese gets – yum! These breakfast sandwiches are delicious. It’s so great to just have them ready to go – this is making our lives so much easier – unless I have to make more than a batch a week! 🙂 Assemble some of these Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches with your family’s favorite breakfast meats, and send them off to have an amazing day!



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