Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

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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Infused Water

Just in time for summer, here’s a great way to keep you hydrated. Very few of us drink as much water as we should, and this is a way to make it easier. Using fruit in your water is so beautiful and so tasty, you’ll want to make sure you get ALL of your 6-8 glasses in a day. I’m not into detoxify this and flush that, I just know that I feel better and my brain works better when I get all of my water in. There are many, many, many recipes for this water all over the internet, but I tried 5 different kinds of Infused Water. Now I can’t decide which is my favorite. You’ll want to try them all, too!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Infused Water

You can make a pitcher of water at a time (or just a glass at a time) and let it sit overnight so the fruit can really make the water tasty.

Put 1 cup fruit or berries into a water pitcher or container.

Muddle, if desired, with a muddler or handle of a wooden spoon.

Let sit overnight.

The next morning, add ice and you’re ready to go with your daily water intake – and it’s tasty!

Here are the different kinds of fruit combinations I tried:


Raspberry Lime


Blueberry Lemon


Pineapple Mint


Citrus with Lemon, Lime, and Orange


Strawberry Lemon


Fill your glass with ice and the fruity water and let the hydrating begin!


Try mixing and matching your favorites – the possibilities are endless.


Hot weather is upon us and being dehydrated is not good. Water is good for your brain, for your digestion, and for your overall health. Plus – it’s pretty in the glass!!! Let’s be healthy, let’s be hydrated, and let’s do it together! Bottoms up!!





Grandma’s Cocoa

We were lucky enough to have a very mild fall here in Minnesota, but the true face of winter here has shown her ugly face. Yesterday the temperature was -13 degrees F when I woke up in the morning with a wind chill of -25 to -35 degrees F. I feel like today is a great time to share the cocoa that my other grandma would make this for me when I stayed at their house. Grandma’s Cocoa is truly the most cocoa-y hot chocolate you will ever try. That’s because it’s made with real cocoa. I do remember Grandma letting me have this for breakfast occasionally, but it was mostly an afternoon treat. She would put the milk in a saucepan on her old gas stove to heat up while I sat at their little kitchen table and busied myself with mixing up the cocoa and sugar, making sure to get EVERY clump and ball of cocoa mixed in. There was nothing better after coming into the house from playing outside in the snow or making a snowman. The smell of that warm milk together with that of the chocolate-y cocoa is one of my favorites from childhood. I made it often for my own kids when they were growing up, but we also have the Hot Chocolate Mix recipe that I got in my 7th grade Home Ec class, so this recipe was only for special occasions. It’s just that good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Grandma’s Cocoa

1/2 to 1 spoon of cocoa

3 (or more to taste) spoons of sugar

1 cup warm milk

Mix the cocoa and sugar together.

Add the warm milk.


That’s it.

So simple.


I heated the milk in a kettle on the stove.


I used a regular table spoon for this and put the sugar into the cup. Next, in goes the cocoa and then it’s time to mix them up. I think Grandma used more sugar than I did because I remember that it looked more sugary or white. You can add more to taste.


Pour in the warm milk and stir some more. That’s it. Just three simple ingredients. You can add whipped cream or marshmallows on top, but this is the way Grandma made it.


You can see why I needed to make this today – look out the patio door! You can see the cold and snow out there!


It’s time to get out all of my warm and toasty wool blankets, snuggle up with a good book, make some cocoa, and let the winter winds howl. I’ll be just fine right here, thank you, with my cup of cocoa. Just keep ’em comin’ – it could be a long winter.




Mulling Spices

I love cider. You can have cider all through the fall and into the winter. This recipe for Mulling Spices is great for cider, wine, or even tea. It makes a great hostess gift, or even a potpourri. I could see having this sitting out in the living room throughout the holiday season. The scent of it is amazing, and incredibly fragrant. You can really use any combination of spices and citrus rind to spice up your warm beverages.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Mulling Spices

Dry in the oven at 250 degrees for 20-30 minutes:

Orange peel (white pith scraped off, if possible)

Lemon peel

Thinly sliced ginger

Mix together and pound a bit (I put all of the whole spices into a zip top bag and pounded it with my rolling pin):

Cinnamon sticks

Star anise

Whole nutmeg

Cardamom pods

Whole allspice

Whole cloves

Vanilla Bean

Mix these all together in a bowl, put into cheesecloth or  drawstring bag, and give as a gift or use in your beverage.

To mull cider: Heat 1 quart cider with one packet of spices and sliced oranges or apples.


I love all of these spicy ingredients.


They’re pretty enough to have sitting out in a pretty glass bowl. They smell great, too!


I cut a square of cheesecloth and put about 2 tablespoons of spices into it. I cut pieces of a vanilla bean and put a piece into each cheesecloth bundle.


You can find drawstring tea bags online, but I just used cheesecloth and tied it up with kitchen string. The batch I made was enough for about 4 bags.


Put them in a jar, put a pretty ribbon around it, and you have a very nice hostess gift for all of your holiday gatherings.


I warmed a quart of cider with a sliced orange and one of the bags of spice mix for about 20 minutes.


This mulled cider makes the whole house smell like a holiday!


You can garnish your cider with a cinnamon stick, a slice of orange, and/or a slice of apple. Make sure to slice the apple across the middle so you can see the star! I hope you make this wonderful mulling spice mix. It makes a nice gift  – and make some for yourself, too!




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Instant Cappuccino Coffee

I have had this recipe around so long, I can’t remember where it came from. It’s so old, it tells you to mix it in a blender instead of a food processor! This Instant Cappuccino Coffee is a nice warmer-upper to have for the fall and winter. You can snuggle up with it in front of the fire with a good book and let the cold winds howl, or enjoy it for your afternoon coffee.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Instant Cappuccino Coffee

1/3 cup non-dairy coffee creamer

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup dry instant coffee, either decaf or regular

1 or 2 orange flavored hard candies, broken up a bit (I used the kind with the hole in the middle)

Put ingredients into blender (I used a food processor) and process at high-speed until well blended.

Use 1 level tablespoon of mix with 3/4 cup boiling water.

Stir well and dollop with whipped cream and/or slice of orange.


This recipe doesn’t make a very big batch. You may want to double it as long as you’re taking out your food processor.


It’s a bit hard to see, but if you squint, you can kind of see the little bits of orange candy in the mix.


Coffee with orange is a very tasty combination.


I love to use decaf coffee for this so I can have a cup in the evening.


Obviously, you can dress this up or down, depending on how you’re feeling. It’s nice and creamy on its own, but if you want to “gild the lily”, as they say, you can add the whipped cream and/or orange slice. This is a delicious warm drink. You’ll love to cozy up with it at any time! Let the cold winds howl, I say!!



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Pumpkin Spice Creamer

Recipes for Pumpkin Spice everything are all over the place this time of year, so I’m jumping in! This Pumpkin Spice Creamer is just the ticket. Maybe it’s that the weather gets cooler and we’re looking for a nice, warm, tasty drink to warm us up. Maybe it’s that this time of year when the sun has that golden glow and goes down earlier, we’re looking for ways to be more cozy. Maybe it’s that we just love fall and spice and we’re willing to try to get it into every food or drink we can. I don’t know what it is about the pumpkin pie spice thing, but I’ll take it. It really is the flavor of fall. It’s delicious. I’m sorry that I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but I did find it somewhere on the internet.

Pumpkin Spice Creamer

1 cup instant non-dairy coffee creamer

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup dry powdered milk

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cardamom

2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix together (I used a food processor to better mix in the vanilla) and store in airtight container.


This recipe really has very few ingredients to make something so tasty.


I don’t drink that much coffee and it makes a kind of big batch so I cut it in half.


The creamer makes your coffee so spicy and creamy.


Your afternoon coffee will make you feel so cozy, you won’t believe it!


It tastes like fall. Spicy, cozy, warm and just a little bit sweet. Just what we need this time of year!



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There aren’t many times that you get a chance to make Punch these days. It seems like kind of an old-fashioned thing. I remember that I had a delicious pink champagne punch for my high school graduation. Both of my daughters have found pretty punch bowls of their own because they say punch is coming back. It used to be a big thing back in the day, so my mom’s birthday party was a good excuse to try one of these old Punch recipes. This recipe makes a HUGE batch, and even when I halved the recipe, a lot of the ladies at the party were coffee drinkers so we had a lot left over.


This is a tasty punch.

Here is the recipe as I made it:


(Half Batch)

Make a batch of lemonade from the lemonade mix (I used Country Time) and freeze it in a ring mold to make an ice ring that wont dilute the punch.

Mix together:

2 12 ounce cans frozen lemonade

1 12 ounce can frozen orange juice

1/2 can (46 ounce) unsweetened pineapple juice

2 scoops lemonade mix


Water as the juice cans indicate (maybe some less).

1/2 of a 2 liter bottle 7Up

Mix well and add lemonade ice ring.


Even though I only made a half batch, the punch bowl was full, and there was still some extra left in the refrigerator to chill.


This punch is a bright and cheery addition to the cake table.


My daughter had the idea to use lemonade ice cubes next time instead of an ice ring. There’s barely room to get the ladle through the middle of the ring. The ring is pretty, though.


Lemonade is a great base to the punch. It goes with everything. This is a great recipe for all of those graduations, bridal showers, and gatherings you have coming this spring and summer. Mix up a batch and let everyone help themselves. Just don’t let anyone spike it – unless you want to.


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Viennese Coffee

We’re in for a cold week here in Minnesota. The high temperature for this week is 15 degrees F, and that’s not until next Friday!!! We need some hot beverages to warm the cockles of our hearts. I did already post a hot beverage last week, but I do have another one I’d like to share. I’ve had this recipe for Viennese Coffee for so long, I don’t even remember where I got it. I have made it and sent it to all of my kids at college, and it’s one that we keep on hand during the winter months in case we need an afternoon coffee or “fika”. Grandma and Grandpa were known for having afternoon coffee at 3:00 pm every day. They would take a break and Grandma would put on the coffee pot (whether it was for actual coffee or the Postum they seemed to enjoy). Grandpa would come in from whatever he was doing around the farm, and stop to have coffee and a snack. Anytime I was at their farm for a visit, there would be so many kinds of snacks for coffee: crackers, cake, cookies, or bars, and not just one kind. There were usually several kinds of snacks to choose from. I remember taking coffee out to Grandpa in the field, specifically where there was a ditch and a couple of trees to sit under for shade. I loved doing that so much and it’s one of my most treasured memories of the farm! I’ll never forget sitting in the tall grass with the dappled sunlight shining through those trees and the sound of the wind rustling the leaves on a beautiful, warm, sunny summer day. It’s nice to remember those summer days this time of year when the high temperature outside is in the single digits!!!

I don’t have a recipe card for this one, so I’ll just type it out here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Viennese Coffee

Mix together:

Scant 2/3 cup dry instant coffee – regular or decaffeinated

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup powdered non-dairy creamer

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of ground allspice

Dash of ground cloves

Dash of ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and store in a jar. Makes 20 servings.

To make one cup: Mix 4 heaping teaspoons of mix with 1 cup boiling water.


There’s really not much to this – just mix the ingredients together and that’s it!


This recipe is so easy, you just HAVE to try it!


It’s tasty and spicy and hot and just right for this cold and blustery time of year. It’s just what we need to stay warm.

Here are some more hot beverages that I’ve posted in the past:


Hot Chocolate Mix


Russian Tea




Hot Cranberry Drink (for a crowd)

These hot beverages can all be served as is, but can also be made even more warming and turned into adult beverages with the addition of your choice of alcohol.

Stay warm everyone!



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Hot Cranberry Drink

The recipe for today comes from one of Grandma’s sisters by way of her daughter, my godmother. I know Grandma used to make this because when I made it and the aroma started wafting through the house, my kids said, “smells like Grandma and Grandpa’s house!” This Hot Cranberry Drink is a great one to have for any holiday celebration or any gathering in the winter. It would be great to have at a sledding party, ice skating party, or skiing party. This drink would be great at any party. It’s delicious and makes a big electric coffee pot full – about 30 cups. It looks like my mom and my uncle would have liked to have a nice hot drink after their day of skiing in this photo from when they were little. Maybe they were about 3 and 6 years old or so.

mom and paul on skiis

It looks like my mom is being a bit bossy! Ha!

Hot Cranberry Drink

This drink is delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Cranberry Drink

Put into large electric coffee pot:

2 quarts cranberry juice

1 46 ounce pineapple juice

1 quart water

2/3 pound sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups and it was “plenty sweet”- next time I might not use quite so much sugar)

Put in basket of coffee pot:

4 sticks cinnamon

1 tablespoon whole allspice berries

1 tablespoon whole cloves

2 lemons, quartered

Perk for 30 minutes.


This recipe is so easy – just put the liquid and sugar into the pot (you might want to stir it up a bit to dissolve the sugar), fill the basket of the electric coffee pot with the spices and lemon, and that’s it.


Plug it in and let it go!


30 minutes later you have a delicious hot beverage.


The spices and lemon add so much flavor and aroma to this drink.


It gets good and hot (you can sort of see the steam) from this coffee pot. Remove the basket with the spices and lemon and the pump stem, plug it in again and it will stay hot for as long as you want it to, or for as long as you’re out playing in the snow – it’ll be hot when you come inside and need something to warm you up! Try this next time you have a crowd coming over for a party or celebration. They’ll love it!








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