Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie

We’re sticking with our “Nothing But Easy Summer” theme again today with Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie. On top of that  – we’re giving it a patriotic twist by topping this delicious pie with berries. This pie is SO easy and SO good! It fits right in with what we’re trying to do this summer – take it EASY! You could top this pie with berries, as I did here, or try some Chocolate Sauce! This photo is of a little girl who loves chocolate. Who knew she would grow up to love chocolate SO much?!!! This is my mom being held by her grandmother, and it looks like she’s a pretty new baby. Maybe just a couple of weeks old.

So precious – I love the way her grandmother is looking at her with that mixture of love and pride that all grandmothers have for all of their grandchildren. She was the first grandchild in this particular family. Who knows – maybe this grandmother is who she got her love of chocolate from!

Well, for this particular pie, I used berries to top it. We’re getting pretty close to 4th of July, and the more we can use those patriotic colors, the better! You can’t get much easier than berries on top!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie

Microwave until soft (15-20 seconds):

8 ounces cream cheese

Mix with electric mixer until real smooth:

Softened cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

Stir in with a spoon:

8 ounces Cool Whip

Pour into:

Keebler Shortbread Cookie Pie Crust (yes – store-bought)

Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

Top with berries or chocolate sauce.

It’s reidiculous how good this pie is with basically 3 ingredients (not counting the berries).

Mixing the cream cheese and sugar together makes it easier to stir in the Cool Whip.

Mix it all thoroughly and then spread the mixture into the pie crust. Yes – it’s store-bought (gasp!), but you can go ahead and make your own graham cracker crust if you want to. I’m just keeping this as easy as possible.

Next, the pie goes into the refrigerator – the card says 3 hours or overnight, so I left it in overnight.

There is nothing easier and more delicious than sweet, seasonal berries, and they just happen to be perfect for the 4th of July. But you know what’s also easy and delicious? Chocolate Sauce. Either way is gonna be great!

This pie will be a regular in my arsenal. So easy, so good, so pretty. Who knew that keeping things easy could be so delicious?!! I’m really starting to enjoy this “Nothing But Easy Summer” thing. It’s just so good, in so many ways! It’s good because it’s easy to do. It’s good because these recipes have all been delicious. It’s good because it gets you outside enjoying the summer before it’s over and gone. It’s all good! Try Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie and get out and enjoy your summer!

 

 

 

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Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July, dear readers!

Plenty Sweet Life wishes you and yours a happy, safe, and fun-filled 4th!

I hope you get a chance to splash around in some water – just a bit!

Happy 4th of July!

 

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Popcorn Cake

This recipe for Popcorn Cake comes from a friend we met when we were first married and living in a different town. Their family came to visit us for a weekend when we moved to our house, and they brought the lovely housewarming gift of a recipe book where you could write in your own recipes. She had written in a few recipes that her family enjoyed, and this was one of them.

I have only made this once before, but I WILL be making it more often from now on.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Popcorn Cake

Melt together:

1 – 10 1/2 ounce bag of marshmallows

25 caramels

3/4 cup butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Pour this over:

9 cups popped popcorn

Add:

3/4 cup M&Ms (I used 1 cup)

3/4 cup dry roasted peanuts (I used 1 cup)

Stir until mixed.

Put in buttered 9″ x 13″ pan (I used a Bundt pan).

Cool 1 hour in refrigerator before serving.

You can make the popcorn any way you like: microwave, kettle, or like I did, with my good old college air popper! Still works great!

Not a lot of ingredients, but they’re delicious ingredients!

Pour the first mixture over the popcorn.

Mix it up and let it sit just a minute or two before adding the M&Ms so they don’t melt. When thinking about how the final product would look, I decided to put a few M&Ms into the bottom of the Bundt pan so they would be on top when it was turned out.

I put the final mixture into the Bundt pan and patted it down with a buttered piece of waxed paper.

I thought the cake would come right out of the pan easily, but it didn’t. No worries. Just hold it in some warm water for a couple of minutes and it slides right out of the pan. Maybe turning it out onto a plate right away instead of chilling it in the refrigerator would work. You can also just follow the recipe and put the mixture into a regular cake pan and make more of a bar type of thing. Either way is equally delicious and pretty. You can also find out how I made the incredibly fast, incredibly easy, and incredibly inexpensive cake stand here!

I added some sprinkles and decorative sugar to the top of the cake. Not necessary. It’s so cute and so festive without sprinkles. I can see why people make this for birthdays and holidays – it’s pretty decadent – loaded with all those goodies like marshmallows, caramels, peanuts, and M&Ms. It’s so good. And it’s so easy. This is a great last-minute treat to celebrate anything and everything. Try this Popcorn Cake and you’ll agree!

 

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Sugar Cookies #4 and Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches

Today’s recipe for Sugar Cookies #4 is going to serve two purposes (yes – this is the 4th recipe for plain sugar cookies I’ve done on this blog). One – they’re just downright delicious as a cookie. Two – we’re going to make ice cream sandwiches out of them! Yes! You heard me. Even better – since the holiday is coming up – we’re going to make them festive for the 4th of July!

The 4th of July was always a big deal for my family. Grandma and Grandpa’s church always had a “Homecoming” on the 4th of July, where people who had grown up in that small town (technically my mom’s hometown) would come home for a good old-fashioned small town 4th celebration. There would be a big lunch at the church and park in town, where the church would furnish the fried chicken or some other delicious main dish along with the rest of the meal, and the church ladies would all bring their Ost Kaka and pies for dessert. Then in the afternoon there would be a program of some kind: singing, bands, or readings. My mom, dad, sister and I lived on a lake when I was growing up and in the small town not far from our lake (technically where my dad grew up) there was a parade every 4th of July. We would either go to my mom’s small hometown or go to my dad’s small hometown near us for the first part of the day and then in the afternoon, we would have friends and family to our house to eat until we couldn’t eat anymore, swim until our ears were so full of water we couldn’t hear anymore, canoe until we would just swamp the canoe so we wouldn’t have to paddle anymore, boat until we ran out of gas and the motor wouldn’t go anymore, water ski until our legs were shaking and we couldn’t stand up on the skis anymore, and shoot off fireworks of some kind until we couldn’t stand the mosquitos anymore. It was so much fun and I have a lot of great memories from both kinds of celebrations from those years.

This is another recipe from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sugar Cookies #4

Mix in order given:

1 cup sugar

1 cup shortening, half butter (I used all butter)

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla (I put the vanilla in here with the more liquid ingredients, and I used 2 teaspoons to give it more vanilla flavor)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Flour to make a soft dough

Roll on floured board.

Bake in hot oven (I baked them at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes).

The dough for this recipe rolls out nicely – and no need to chill it! I love that!

I decided to make them VERY festive. You can never be TOO festive. Right?

They’re a tender cookie after baking, and they’re delicious!

I used store-bought (gasp!) ice cream, but you can certainly make your own homemade ice cream if you want to.

I made all of these ice cream sandwiches, wrapped them, and put them right into the freezer to pull out on the 4th of July for a tasty treat.

These cookies are so easy to make, since there’s no dough chilling involved. You can just roll them right out and get it done. Make them as festive as you want to. Maybe try just sugar on top of them and fill them with strawberry ice cream, or chocolate ice cream, or mint ice cream. All of those would be right up my alley. I may have to make another batch of these Sugar Cookies #4 and try them all!

 

 

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Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

My husband and I, along with our oldest daughter, took the long way home from our nephew’s high school graduation in Virginia in May. We headed north to Massachusetts to visit the town where we think one of my ancestors settled a town with a group of 35 families from England in 1638. We were only there for 3 days before heading back to Minnesota, but wow – did we pack a lot into those 3 days! On our last full day, we visited the Concord, Massachusetts area, and this was one of the places we saw. This is the Old North Bridge where the “shot heard ’round the world” happened.

Here is the road that the British soldiers were marching on towards Concord. They had to cross the bridge, but the American Militia were waiting on the other side.

This is the view from the Old North Bridge where the first shots against the British in the beginning of the Revolutionary War took place.

This is the hill where the American Militia were waiting.

I’m grateful to the Minute Men who showed their bravery and gained our independence.

It was really quite moving to be able to see where it all started.

Thank you so much for stopping by – I appreciate each and every one of you!

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Independence Day Bundt Cake

Today we’re doing another bundt cake – the Independence Day Bundt Cake! I’m still on my quest to work my way through an entire year making the Bundt Cake recipe, altering it for every holiday. It really is the most versatile recipe ever! I love that this is so easy and fast, you can do it totally last-minute.

The 4th of July was always a big occasion at our house. We lived on a lake, so there were always a lot of people who came for the celebration – two sets of grandparents, other family members, friends, and neighbors. This photo of me was taken a few years before we moved to the lake, but it shows how much of a water-baby I was (BTW – that was NOT a Barbie Doll – it was a Miss Clairol doll. Ha!). My sister was a water baby, too, and we loved the lake and looked forward to the weekend of the 4th all year.

We would start the day by heading to the small town just north of our lake to watch the annual 4th of July parade. After eating our fill of the candy that the people on the parade floats would throw at us, packing up the lawn chairs, and fighting the traffic to drive back to our house, people would start coming to our house for the day, and the fun – both in and out of the lake – would begin. The 4th of July was that one day of the year when my dad and his best friend would show off their water ski prowess. My dad would do his once a year ski, and his best friend would do his annual starting off the dock on one ski. He’d yell, “Hit it!” and my dad would throw the throttle forward and his friend would jump off the dock into the water (on one ski) behind the boat to show off for us kids and everyone present. One other crazy thing they did was ride the “saucer” (a 5 foot diameter piece of plywood with rounded edges that we would stand up on and ride behind the boat) and put a step-ladder on it, climbing up the ladder, and riding it around the lake like that. They did lose one ladder one year! I think after that they put a life jacket on the ladder so it would float if it fell into the water. Ha! After the water activities, we would reluctantly (because we never wanted to actually get OUT of the lake) head up to the house for the food – fried chicken, salads of every description (see the Salad category on the right of this page – this included a lot of those recipes), Baked Beans, chips, and desserts (there was usually a Bundt Cake and some Homemade Ice Cream in there somewhere). There were always sparklers and firecrackers bought on family trips to South Dakota or Wisconsin (my dad liked to stay well-stocked and I think they were illegal in MN at the time), and at the end of the night we would battle the hoards of mosquitos (and clouds of bug spray) to watch the fireworks show in that same small town just north of our lake. That day was a lot of work, but it was a blast and the whole family loved it!

This really is a great recipe – the possibilities are endless!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bundt Cake

Mix together:

1 cake mix (I used chocolate fudge here)

1 package instant pudding (I used chocolate here)

4 eggs

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oil (I used canola oil)

Beat 2 minutes.

Pour into bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Cool in pan on rack for 25 minutes.

Turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 Tablespoons milk, or enough to make glaze the consistency you want

Spoon or pipe glaze onto cake.

Decorate with sprinkles and/or colored sugar on top (quickly, before glaze dries).

Oh boy – it comes out of the oven looking pretty good!

I seriously love how easily it comes out of the pan. I have had a problem with things sticking in the bundt pan before – remember the Rum Cake?!! Cooling in the pan for 25 minutes is the key!

I made a Vanilla Glaze for this cake instead of the usual lemon-flavored Glaze.

Instead of using a disposable piping bag, this time I used a zip top bag. It’s just so easy! Put the Vanilla Glaze into the bag, zip it shut, snip off one corner, squeeze the glaze over the cake, and then just throw the bag away! Don’t forget the sprinkles!

Here she is – in all her glory!!!

So here is another example of how easy it is to change-up this Bundt Cake recipe to fit any occasion! The 4th of July is so much fun, and even if you don’t live on a lake, make the most of it. Let’s make a party out of it! Every party needs a cake, so I think you should all make a nice, easy, delicious, festive Independence Day Bundt Cake!

 

 

 

 

 

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4th of July Soda Cracker Bars

I wanted to try to use a recipe I posted a couple of years ago to make some festive 4th of July Soda Cracker Bars. Grandma’s recipe for Soda Cracker Bars is so incredibly delicious and addictive – I thought, why not try to make them red, white, and blue? Well, this was a mistake. Not a total mistake as much as that I made a mistake. I just assumed I could make the same bars, but use white chocolate chips instead of regular chocolate chips. Nope. I’ll elaborate as we go along.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Soda Cracker Bars

Butter a jelly roll pan and layer on:

soda crackers (about 1 1/2 sleeves of crackers)

Cut or break crackers to fill pan.

Combine in saucepan:

3/4 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

Boil 2 minutes.

Spread hot caramel over soda crackers.

Bake in 325 degree oven for 5 minutes or until bubbly.

Put on top of hot caramel:

2 cup white chocolate chips, melted in microwave according to instructions on package

Carefully spread the white chocolate on top of the caramel.

Top with sprinkles.

Cut while warm.

Put in refrigerator to cool and firm up.

I used a sharp knife to cut through the soda crackers and make them fit the whole pan.

Here is the caramel on top of the crackers, and the white chocolate chips sprinkled on top of that.

So far, so good, right? No. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT do it this way. I guess when there’s a specific way to melt the white chocolate chips on the package, you should take it seriously. You can see that the chips are shiny, which means they’re melting when you use regular chocolate chips. Not so with the white ones. They never did melt enough to spread.

In fact, I could actually scrape them off the caramel. Which I did after trying to put the pan back into the oven in case the pan had cooled off too much for some reason, and wasn’t hot enough to melt the white chocolate chips. That wasn’t it, either.

All that did was ruin the caramel, too. I scraped off the white chocolate chips, but we kept the caramel-coated soda crackers to snack on anyway. They’re still tasty, just not very festive.

Ok – let’s just start over. Here we are at the point where the caramel is on top of the soda crackers. After baking for 5 minutes, it does get bubbly.

Here’s the trick – melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave or double boiler and THEN pour it on top of the bubbly caramel on the soda crackers. I melted them in the microwave while the crackers were in the oven to get the caramel bubbly. Then I let them sit in the warm bowl for a few minutes after the pan came out of the oven. There are people on Pinterest making these bars and not having a problem with the chips melting. I had a problem, so I decided to melt the chips separately. I hope this all makes sense at this point. It really is a very easy recipe!

Spread the melted white chocolate chips over top and then sprinkle with jimmies, sprinkles, or colored sugar. You could also use red, white, and blue M&Ms or other candies – anything that would be yummy and festive.

I did cut some of them while they were still warm, and it was easier to break them apart in squares. I didn’t cut the other half – I just left them as is and broke them apart after cooling. Some of it still broke into squares and some of it broke like almond bark would break.

I think that in the end, after making these twice, they turned out to be VERY festive and colorful. They’re cute – and very addictive. It’s that sweet and salty thing. Just don’t forget that white chocolate chips don’t melt as easily as regular chocolate chips, and you’ll be fine. Make a batch (or two) of these 4th of July Soda Cracker Bars and you’ll have your guests totally addicted!

 

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6 Great Ideas for the 4th of July

I wanted to share 6 Great Ideas for the 4th of July today.  It’s coming up – faster than we want it to! It always seems like summer’s half over once the 4th of July comes. My family has had a busy summer, so far, and I can’t believe that it’s time to be thinking about the 4th already! Enjoy these ideas – I hope you can find something new to try!

4th of July Take Home Favors

Fairy Cookies

Blueberry Pie

Patriotic Snack Mix

Happy 4th of July

Angel Food Cake

 

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Day 4 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Julekage

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It’s Day 4 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas and we’re making Julekage! For some reason, I think of this is as a Norwegian bread. This was a sweet Christmas bread that Grandma really liked. She probably made it back in the day, but this is a recipe I have made for a long time. This recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens Creative Cooking Library series of cookbooks that my mom had years ago. It’s in the book Birthdays and Family Celebrations and the bread is called Sugarplum Bread. Grandma always called it Julekage, so that’s what we call it, too. It’s not an official Scandinavian recipe, but I’m sure the recipes are similar. I’ve seen it called Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish, so it’s truly Scandinavian!

julekage

There’s no better bread for my family’s leftover Christmas ham sandwiches!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Julekage

Soften in 1/2 cup warm water:

2 packages of active dry yeast

Combine:

1 cup milk, scalded

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening (I used butter)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Cool to lukewarm.

Add:

2 cups flour (you’ll need 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 cups total)

1 teaspoon lemon peel

Beat until smooth.

Add:

2 eggs, beaten

Beat well.

Stir in:

The softened yeast

Add:

1 1/2 cups mixed diced candied fruits and peels

Stir in:

Enough of remaining flour, or enough to make a soft dough

Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes).

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

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

Punch down.

Divide dough in half and round each into a ball.

Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Place round loaves on greased baking sheet and pat tops to flatten slightly.

Cover and let rise until almost double (about 1 1/2 hours).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (cover tops with foil after 15-20 min to prevent over browning).

Cool on rack.

While slightly warm, glaze with frosting of 2 cups powdered sugar mixed with 3-4 Tablespoons milk.

Decorate with bits of red and green candied cherries or sprinkles.

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Here we go – melting the butter in the hot milk with the sugar and salt. There are what seems like a lot of steps to this bread, but it’s worth it in the end!

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Here are the add-ins: softened yeast, beaten eggs, and chopped candied fruit (I used just cherries instead of fruit and peels).

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Here is what it looks like after adding the first 2 cups of flour.

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This is with the added chopped fruit.

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Here we are at the point where we’ve added everything and we’re starting to knead. Since I use my big mixer, the kneading part is when you put on the dough hook.

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Here is the dough ready to rise and then punched down after rising.

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This shows the dough before and after baking. Again – the house will smell so good when this is baking!

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I tend to decorate this with sprinkles instead of the candied cherries, but either way is just fine. You can freeze it with the frosting on, or leave it off until you are ready to serve it. You can make it as festive as you want to. It’s so pretty and so delicious! You’ll love this bread that’s great with leftover Christmas ham or turkey. It’s even great toasted. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Happy 4th of July!!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

I hope you’re all able to enjoy the day with family and friends, food, and fireworks!!! It’s so important to celebrate every possible holiday (or even weekends)!

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I don’t have any special 4th of July decorations that I used for setting our holiday table – I just pulled out everything I could find that was red, white, and blue! I did have the flags from last year.

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Sweet cherries are the perfect natural treat.

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My hydrangea got hit by hail and cool weather early in the season and are NOT up to last year’s standards.

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This one kind of looks like fireworks!

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Because I don’t have many 4th of July decorations, I printed out antique postcards to use – cheap AND cute!

Stay safe everyone, and enjoy the holiday!

Thanks for reading Plenty Sweet Life!!

 

 

 

 

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