Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

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.


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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Peachy Lemonade

Today’s recipe for Peachy Lemonade comes from my mom. She probably got it from one of her friends, and I’m so glad. So glad. It’s a ridiculously easy recipe to make (for my “Nothing But Easy Summer”), and it’s ridiculously delicious. Everybody had a lemonade stand when they were kids, right? I think I tried it once or twice – once when my other grandma was babysitting me and then once at the lake (there wasn’t a lot of traffic out there). This lemonade with fruit would have brought big bucks if we had known about this back in the day. It might have put us through college! You get to add other tasty ingredients to already refreshing lemonade, and I can see totally changing this and using other fruits and juices to make your own amazing recipes. Just keeping lemonade as the base, you could add: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lemon slices, lime slices, orange slices, mango slices, apricot slices. You could change the lemonade to any kind of fruit juice and do the same. This seems like it could be a VERY versatile recipe. You could even stick with seasonal fruit and change it up all year long! Add a bottle of white wine and make it a sangria – if you’re into that sort of thing – or even add vodka or rum. Now we’re talkin’ fruity!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peachy Lemonade

Make 2 quarts of Lemonade – either from scratch or from a mix (I used a mix – this is the “Nothing But Easy Summer”, remember?).



2 cans (5 1/2 oz. each) peach or apricot nectar (it doesn’t say if you’re supposed to use frozen nectar, but I found some soda can sized cans in the Mexican food section of my grocery store)

Refrigerate and chill.

Just before serving, add 1 cup frozen peach slices.

Makes 2 1/2 quarts.

Since we weren’t having company, I made just a half batch. This is how easy this lemonade is to make – I used a lemonade mix, a can of mango nectar (soda can size – that’s just what I happened to have in my cupboard), and a package of frozen peaches that I froze myself that came right out of my freezer. So I had the flavors of lemon, mango, peach, AND orange here (the peaches were frozen in orange juice).

That’s it! Done!

Fill the glass with ice and pour yourself a refreshing glass of Peachy Lemonade.

I picked a sprig of mint growing in the pot on my deck – to make it mint scented and pretty – and there you go! SO pretty!

Oh. Em. Gee. This is so good and so ridiculously easy to do. It’s perfect for this summer – keep it easy, keep it good, keep it fun. This one’s a keeper! You HAVE TO try this Peachy Lemonade and let me know what other kinds of fruit you try in it!


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Camping Margaritas

I recently saw this recipe for Camping Margaritas on a website called, and I thought they might be perfect for our week at a cabin in Wisconsin this summer. I have declared this summer the “Nothing But Easy Summer”, and these margaritas will hopefully help us with that. Really. Nothing is going to be difficult to find or do – activities or food or drinks – and I mean it. Seriously. We have a limited number of weekends and warm summer days in general here in Minnesota, and this summer I have decided not to waste a minute of it. I want to be able to pull things together fast and get out of the house to enjoy our beautiful summer weather. I have made margaritas before on Plenty Sweet Life (my friend Julie’s Margaritas ), but this recipe is even easier, and I can’t wait to try it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Camping Margaritas

Mix all together using the can from the limeade:

1 (12 ounce) can frozen limeade

3 (12 ounce) cans water

1 (12 ounce) can tequila, plus a couple splashes more

6 ounces (1/2 can) Triple Sec

Place mixture into a gallon size zip-top bag. You can mix it right in the gallon bag, if you want to. Place filled bag into a second one (to keep it safe during transport) – this is easier to do before it freezes. Be careful to check and make sure your gallon bag doesn’t leak – I’ve had that happen a lot lately – just keep an eye on it.

Freeze several days until firm (if camping, put in cooler filled with ice to keep it frozen until ready to serve).

When ready to serve, have ready:

1-2 limes, cut into wedges

margarita salt (or kosher salt)

Break mixture apart until slushy.

Rub a lime wedge around the rim of each cup, and then dip in salt to coat the rim.

Pour margaritas into salt rimmed cups and serve with a wedge of lime.

These are made with just a few ingredients. Love it – easy!

You just use the limeade can to measure it all out – simple!

I used a gallon zip-top bag and it all fit in just fine.

Don’t forget to add the lime and salt around the rim BEFORE you pour the margarita!

Let it sit for awhile – if you can wait a few minutes – so it can melt a bit. I couldn’t wait.

These margaritas are so refreshing and so good! I LOOOOVE margaritas! This was a great idea! Now I can’t wait for the week at the cabin! There’s nothing like the simplicity of this “Nothing But Easy Summer”, and there’s nothing like a simple-to-do cocktail. I can’t wait to make many, many, many more batches of these Camping Margaritas!




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Hot Cider or Wassail

This recipe for Hot Cider or Wassail comes from my mom, and it’s one we’ve been making in our family since the 1970’s (you can tell because it has Tang in it – you know, the drink of the astronauts). It’s a very simple, but very delicious recipe for everybody’s favorite holiday hot beverage. I made another type of Wassail a few years ago, but the recipe is a bit more involved. This one is easy. Very easy. You can go outside and play in the snow and have this ready to heat up once you get back indoors and need some warming up. This smells so good while it’s heating up – you really should make this just for the potpourri factor, but you’re really going to love how tasty this is.

While this photo of me when I was 4 years old isn’t from the 1970’s when we started making this cider recipe, it was taken in the 1960’s. It is a fun Christmas photo – I LOVE the tree. They obviously didn’t prune the Christmas trees then the way they do now to make the perfect shape, and it was hardly taller than me!

My mom really liked the trees with the long needles. I did not, and we had them every year. It made ornament hanging very difficult and the needles always poked you! I would end up with red dots (that almost looked like hives) all over my hands – and they itched! That may be why you don’t see them around any more. It was seriously painful to decorate the tree! At any rate, I look very happy holding that beautifully wrapped package. I wonder what was inside . . .

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Cider or Wassail

Combine all in a large saucepan:

1 1/2 quarts apple cider

1 1/2 quarts water

1 cup Tang

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat for about 15 minutes.

Seriously, this could not be an easier recipe. This is it.

The ground spices look funny at first, but they assimilate pretty easily into the cider once it gets warm.

You can add some sliced oranges or lemons if you want to. Maybe stud them with a few whole cloves? That just might make it smell even better!

This is such a ridiculously easy and delicious recipe, I can’t even tell you. You may want this for the holidays, or for any day during the winter, say one in which you’re sledding or skating or skiing or walking in the snow or making snow angels or snowmobiling or¬† . . . you get the picture. It’s worth it to have a jar of Tang on hand for just such an occasion. Any occasion on which you want a nice, easy, delicious warm-up that tastes great and smells even better! Try this Hot Cider or Wassail and your friends and family will love you for it!


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Spiced Mocha Mix

Today’s recipe for Spiced Mocha Mix is great to use for gift giving, bring as a hostess gift, or send to your favorite college kid. It involves instant coffee, but I make it with decaf so I can enjoy it in the late afternoon or evening. If you make both, you can enjoy the caffeine buzz in the morning and then mellow out with it later in the day. I have more beverage recipes on the blog that you and/or your college student might enjoy: Hot Chocolate Mix, Instant Cappuccino Coffee, Viennese Coffee, Russian Tea, or even Pumpkin Spice Creamer. All of these beverage mixes are perfect for gift giving, hostess gifts, or shipping in college care packages, and they can all be made with either caffeine or decaffeinated (except the ones which don’t involve coffee right in the mix). I’m always on the lookout for something warm and decaffeinated to snuggle up with on the couch while wrapped in my coziest blanket and binge watching my latest History Channel obsession, and this is another delicious warm drink that’s perfect for that situation. And by something warm, I mean some-THING, like a warm drink, not some-ONE, geez, people. Anyooo – anyone would enjoy this mix as a gift, especially college students – who we all know basically live on coffee during those sleep-deprived years. I got these drink recipes years ago, and they all came on a single page of recipes. That page doesn’t exist anymore, and I don’t remember where it came from, so I’ll just write it out here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spiced Mocha Mix

Place in a large bowl:

1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer

1 cup hot cocoa mix

2/3 cup dry instant coffee

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix well.

Store in a tightly covered container.

Start with using 1 heaping Tablespoon of mix in 1 cup boiling water.

Adjust to taste.

There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this drink mix, but it sure is tasty.

Just throw them all into a bowl and mix them up!

The recipe says to use 1 heaping Tablespoon for 1 cup boiling water. I used 2 heaping Tablespoons for this large Rae Dunn cup, and it was too much. There was a lot left in the bottom of the cup at the end.

You can tweak the amount to add to your boiling water according to how you like it.

This makes almost a full quart jar of mix, so it is quite a big batch. Like I said above, this would be such a perfect hostess gift or college student gift – everyone who is a coffee drinker will enjoy this tasty cup. Now get out your most snuggly blanket, fire up your favorite tv show, and settle down for a comfy, cozy evening with this warm and delicious Spiced Mocha Mix.

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Peach Smoothie

When peaches are in season, a Peach Smoothie is a great way to enjoy them while they’re here. In Minnesota, we get “crates” of them shipped here from other states where peaches are much more apt to grow, like Colorado or California. Peaches don’t grow so well here in this climate, although my husband swears that they had a white peach tree in their yard when he was growing up. Grandma and my mom always got boxes of peaches every August, and I have very fond memories of me and my sister eating peaches until we were sick. They were so good and they only showed up in August, so we had to enjoy them while we could. The crates are now made of cardboard, but the boxes that the peaches came in used to be made of wood, and Grandma’s family would get one of those crates every year and then preserve them for the winter by making things like Peach Jam, Canned Peaches, Peach Pie, Glazed Peach Pie, Peach Crisp, Peach Cake, the list goes on and on. They were also able to re-use everything about those old wooden peach crates. The crates themselves were used for storage in the garage or as a side table, because they had two separate sections that acted like shelves. We had two peach crates used for tables in our playhouse when we were growing up – they had been painted brown and came in handy for storing all kinds of necessities like doll clothes or books. One other thing – back then, the peaches that came in those crates were wrapped in pink tissue paper, and I think we all know what that was used for back in the days of the Great Depression when people used outhouses and couldn’t afford toilet paper. I have heard that for that reason alone, people would look forward to August and peach season!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Smoothie

Put into blender:

1 peach, cut up

1 small container of vanilla greek yogurt

1 cup skim milk

6 ice cubes

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

2 whole graham crackers, crushed (reserve half for putting around rim of glass)


Put reserved graham cracker crumbs onto a small plate.

Wet the rim with a slice of peach and then put edge of glass into graham cracker crumbs.

Pour smoothie into glass, add a squirt of your favorite canned whipped topping and a straw.

Oh, how I love peach season!

I still use my old blender from the late 1970’s.

The graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon help to make this smoothie taste like you’re enjoying one of those above-mentioned recipes like Glazed Peach Pie or Peach Crisp!

This really is a healthy, delicious, and very pretty snack. While there are many, many things you can and SHOULD make with peaches right now, this is just one more way to use peaches. Your family will love this Peach Smoothie – I guarantee it!



Strawberry Lemonade

This recipe for Strawberry Lemonade may be a no-brainer, but it’s too good not to share. You mix up your favorite batch of Lemonade and whiz it in the blender with some fresh strawberries. That’s it. It’s not hard, but sometimes it’s nice to try a new idea, and this is a good one to try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Strawberry Lemonade

Make one batch of lemonade. I have my other grandma’s great recipe for Lemonade on the blog, and that’s a delicious one to try here. There are many ready-made mixes you could try, and that’s what I did today. I have even made this with a sugar-free mix and it’s absolutely delicious.

I used a powdered mix for this particular batch, and it made one quart. There’s nothing like my old almost 40-year-old blender for mixing this – it still works great!

Next clean, hull, and quarter about 1 cup of strawberries and add them to the blender. I have made this using an entire pack of berries, and that was delicious, too. Can you ever really have too many strawberries? I think not.

Blend away and there you go. Done.

As I remember, when I used more berries, it didn’t separate like this, but isn’t it pretty?!! You can strain out the strawberry bits, if you want to, but why not enjoy the health benefits and leave it all in there?

Add some ice, a straw (paper, of course – for environmental reasons), and a strawberry garnish and you have a beautiful, delightful, refreshing drink for summertime.

Just remember this recipe when the weather gets hot and humid and you need something new to try – maybe add a shot of vodka for more of an adult beverage! It’s so refreshing and delicious. Invite the neighbors over and offer them a glass of this Strawberry Lemonade – you’ll be the most popular neighbor in the whole wide neighborhood!




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Julie’s Margaritas

My friend Julie makes the best Margaritas. Julie is one of my group of friends called the Coffee Babes. We all met when our daughters played volleyball together. All of us were on the board of the volleyball club our daughters were part of, and a couple of us met the morning after our board meetings to discuss the minutes and what would go into a newsletter that I was in charge of. This started 20 years ago, and there were still 4 of us meeting every Friday morning for coffee (no longer talking about volleyball, but everything else under the sun) until last year when we lost one of our dear Coffee Babes to cancer. We aren’t just friends, we’re family, and they mean the world to me. The final 3 of us are still meeting every Friday for coffee, talk, and our weekly therapy session together. Seriously – we say this all the time – if we had put the money into a jar every week that we would have spent on therapy with an actual doctor, we could have a great vacation in the Bahamas by now!! We have taken occasional trips together over the years, and on one of those trips, Julie shared her recipe for these amazing Margaritas. Let’s just say they went over well. Real well. Even with those of us who usually have a problem with tequila. Ha! Well, now that it’s June, it is officially summer, so make up a big batch of these Margaritas, pull together some of The Easiest Nachos Ever, and call up some friends to come over and enjoy them with you!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Julie’s Margaritas

For one drink –

I use a 1 ounce shot glass.

Use a wedge of lime to wet the rim of a highball glass.

Dip rim of glass in kosher salt.

Fill glass with ice.


1/2 shot Grand Marnier

1 1/2 shots Jose Cuervo Gold

1 1/2 shots Patron

3 1/2 shots Margarita Mix

Stir gently (so you don’t knock the salt off of the rim of the glass).

Garnish with a wedge or slice of lime and a straw, if desired.

For six drinks –

Mix in a pitcher:

3 ounces Grand Mariner

9 ounces Jose Cuervo Gold

9 ounces Patron

21 ounces Margarita Mix

Salt the rims of your glasses first – you can’t do it after your get the liquid in the glass! ūüôā

I just mix the drinks in the glass. It’s really hard to just have one of these, but one is usually enough for me. But then again – they’re just SOOOO good!

Serve with chips and salsa or The Easiest Nachos Ever – take your pick.

If you like margaritas, you’ll love these! They’re so delicious and refreshing – perfect for summer! You could make a batch (or two or three) and pack them up to take to the cabin. Believe me – they’re the best! They’re really great on the raft while sunbathing in the afternoon or at the end of a dock while watching a sunset. Make up a batch of Julie’s Margaritas and call up some friends.



Limoncello and Freezing Lemon Juice

Making Limoncello was my daughter’s idea after she brought home those beautiful lemons from California last winter. We had a lot of lemons, and after making¬†all of those wonderful¬†recipes with them, I still had a bunch left over. Why not?¬†I’ve never had Limoncello and it sounded delicious.¬†I’m up for it.

See what I mean? They’re seriously beautiful lemons.

This is MY lemon tree. My kids gave it to me for Mother’s Day several years ago, and it has barely – and I mean barely – survived the winters in my kitchen where it gets the most sun in the house. The poor thing really needs A LOT more sun than it gets here. Let me add that in this picture, it is looking VERY good. I’m not even going to show a photo of what it looks like right now – a lot of¬†blossoms, but yellow leaves that are falling off faster than summer is getting here. The tree has done well being out on our deck in the summertime, and it NEEDS to be out there. It’s done well enough to give me 2 whole lemons! Just enough to make myself 1 lemon drop cocktail!!! There are recipes all over the internet for making Limoncello, and that’s where I found the instructions to make it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:


Wash and scrub 12 lemons (organic, if possible). Peel them with either a vegetable peeler or knife, getting the peel as thin as possible, without any of the white pith on it. The pith makes it bitter, so you could use a little knife and carefully cut or scrape off the white pith.

Juice the lemons, but¬†don’t waste that wonderful juice.

I froze the juice in¬†1 cup amounts in zip top freezer bags. Freeze them flat and you can stack them in your freezer to take up less space. It’s also easier to break off what you need when it is frozen flat. Use this over the summer to make Lemonade, Lemon Meringue Pie, or Lemon Meringue Pie #2.

Put the peel into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and add one bottle of¬†grain alcohol (which I couldn’t find) or 100¬†proof vodka (which is what I used).

Let it¬†sit for¬†3 weeks and get all nice and lemony from the oils in the peel. I labeled it¬†so I wouldn’t forget how long to leave it alone.

After 3 weeks, filter the peels out of the vodka. I used a coffee filter put inside my mesh strainer to do this. Press all the vodka out of the peel and filter. Don’t waste a drop!

Now you have the beautiful, fragrant vodka, but you need to add some simple syrup. Heat 3-4 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let it cool. Add the simple syrup to the lemon vodka and combine. Now you have your Limoncello.

I used a funnel to pour it¬†into a bottle¬†–¬†we had a few clean, old plain glass bottles and that’s what I used. Top it with a cork and you’re done!

Here is the beautiful, yellow, lemony Limoncello. It had a mellower, less lemony taste than it might have if I had used regular lemons – these are Meyer lemons with a sweeter, milder flavor. This also makes a great gift – tie a pretty ribbon around it, add a gift tag, and you’re good to go!

I’m glad I tried this. It’s delicious, and when you store it in the freezer, it’s nice and icy cold – you can even enjoy it with some sparkling water and/or over ice.¬†Or try it over cake or ice cream.¬†Try this stuff on anything. Limoncello is the perfect after dinner¬†cocktail for a warm summer night.

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Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink

I love Halloween. I always have. I love the old-fashioned black and orange decorations of¬†flying witches, scary pumpkins, and jointed limbed skeletons. I love the costumes, as Lucy says in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,¬†“in direct contrast to her own personality”¬†to dress up in and hide behind. I love¬†the crispy sound of dry, colored¬†leaves blowing¬†and tumbling¬†along the street. I love¬†the eventual stark and empty tree branches silhouetted against a cloudy and misty sky. I love¬†the fields full of haphazard pumpkins and gourds¬†on their drying, twisting vines.¬†I love¬†the smell of a burning pile of leaves raked up and out of the yard by the family on¬†the golden afternoons in October. I love the kids as they ring the doorbell, so proud to show off their costumes and shout the customary “trick-or-treat!”, running through the neighborhood and ruling the world.

You can see the beginnings of my love for Halloween in this photo from 1963. I started young. I wasn’t quite 2 years old, but totally ready for Halloween and trick or treating at my Grandma and Gramp’s house! By the reach of that hand trying to get the door open, you’d almost think I knew that there was candy inside there! Ha!


I wish I still had the 101 Dalmatians costume!! That trick-or-treat bag is almost as big as me!

My love of Halloween is¬†equal to¬†my love of pumpkin. The recipe for today is one of those pumpkin recipes that I found when I was sick and on the couch and spending way too much time on Pinterest. There are so many interesting things to make with¬†pumpkin out there¬†now, and as you can tell by my latest posts, I¬†am determined to try as many as possible this fall. I am always on the lookout for a warm beverage to cozy up with and enjoy in the evening, so I don’t like it to be caffeinated and I don’t like it to have too much sugar in it. This one does the trick. I found this delicious Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink on the blog Apple of My Eye, and this was one I had to try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink

2 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk or milk of your choice

2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (I used my frozen pumpkin stash)

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

whipped cream for topping


This drink really doesn’t have very many ingredients, but man is this good!


I warmed it¬†(I wouldn’t bring it to a boil) on the stove instead of the microwave.


You can leave it plain, but I’m always one to gild the lily when I can, so I topped mine with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I suppose if you really wanted to, you could add a splash of your favorite adult beverage to this.


Kids would love this drink, especially this weekend before Halloween. Maybe this would be nice after a tough evening of trick-or-treating. I think adults would like this delicious drink curled up in front a roaring fire, in your jammies, wrapped in your favorite quilt. Just enjoy the warm deliciousness and drift off to sleepy land. Nothing more cozy than that! How are you going to enjoy this warm cup of coziness?





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