Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Grandma received this postcard from an aunt and uncle living in Seattle, Washington – the date on the postmark is March 26, 1929. I’m sure she was excited when she got this cute card in the mail!

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading Plenty Sweet Life!

I appreciate each and every one of you!



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Easter Bundt Cake

As promised – here is the Bundt Cake for Easter – or – the Easter Bundt Cake. On my quest this year to show how the Bundt Cake recipe can be so easily switched up for holidays (or personal preference), I’ve made one that’s perfect for an Easter dessert.

First, here is a typical Easter photo from when I was about 3 years old. You can see the brand new dress, white patent leather shoes with white anklets, and my purse. My dad used to tease me relentlessly about always having to have a “purse”. But it is essential to every girl’s Easter outfit – every little OR big girl. I was standing on the little wall that was between my other grandma and gramp’s house and the house where we lived in the upstairs apartment.

Obviously, we had beautiful weather on Easter Sunday that year, because I didn’t have on a sweater, jacket, or coat.

Ok – on to the Easter Bundt Cake. I do love that this is such an easy recipe and you can make it last-minute. Kids would love to help make this because decorating it is so much fun. You can – and MUST – make it very colorful and festive. Well, you don’t HAVE to. You CAN keep it simple. But where’s the fun in that?!!

I’m telling you – this recipe is so easily adaptable for each and every holiday or special occasion!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bundt Cake

Mix together:

1 cake mix (I used lemon here)

1 instant pudding (I used lemon here)

4 eggs

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oil (I used canola)

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Let cool in pan 25 minutes.

Turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.


Mix together:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Juice of half of a lemon, or enough to make glaze the consistency you want

Spoon or pipe glaze onto top of cake.

Decorate with sprinkles and/or colored sugar (do this before the glaze dries – it happens fast).

This particular bundt cake was made with a lemon cake mix and lemon instant pudding. I think a white cake mix with a vanilla or coconut instant pudding and 1/2 to 1 cup of coconut would also be tasty for this time of year.

I get all my decorations ready ahead of time and then make the glaze. The glaze dries quickly, so if you have everything ready, put on the glaze and then immediately decorate. You can use a spoon to drizzle on the glaze, but I used a disposable piping bag for drizzling.

I went with white glaze and pastel colored sprinkles for this one. The lemony glaze goes so well with the lemon cake and the lemon pudding in the cake.

Here’s the overhead view – can you tell what I put on top?

You got it! Bunnies! They’re so cute!

I put the bunnies on toothpicks and then stuck them into the top of the cake. If I had used a cake plate or pedestal, I might have had room to stick the bunnies into the glaze around the outside of the cake, but this cake is going with my husband to work, so it’s just on a paper plate and that doesn’t leave a lot of room on the outside. It makes more sense to put it on something that doesn’t have to get back home with my husband. All he has to bring back with him is the big container he’s taking the whole cake in.

People ask me all the time if we actually eat ALL the things I make for this blog. Oh yes – we do eat our fair share, but I do also try to share some of it with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Everyone has to do their part and take some of it. Funny – nobody has seemed to mind too much. Yet. Get your kids involved and make an Easter Bundt Cake for your family or friends this year – it’ll be a lot of fun and they’ll love it!










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Easter Ham

Oh, how we love a good Easter Ham in our family. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that we’re big on traditions in our family. Maybe my kids get it from me, because I think I’ve always been that way. They’re the worst when it comes to tradition – we have to do the same things EVERY year for holidays. They’ve always been that way, too. One tradition that stays the same is the movies we watch for each holiday, and the other main traditional thing that stays the same is food. Each holiday has its own decorations, movies, and food and there is no exception. Additions are rare, and deletions are even more rare, and Easter is no exception. This photo show just where the tradition thing originally comes from. This is Grandma, me (at about 6 years old), my mom, and Grandma’s oldest sister at Easter.

These women were heavy into tradition, and frankly, I’m very grateful for that. We all need traditions – that’s what makes a holiday, a holiday.

My family demands the same food – every year – for every holiday and occasion. I make this Easter Ham every year for our Easter dinner, but the exact recipe for the glaze does change from time to time. Sometimes I use honey or orange marmalade or crushed pineapple. Sometimes I use regular yellow mustard, but this is the basic glaze recipe that I use almost every year. This is also a money-saving meal because you can save the ham bone to make Split Pea Soup later.

Here is the recipe as I made it (this time):

Easter Ham


1 cup real maple syrup

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons grainy mustard

4 ounces pineapple juice (1 of the small individual cans you can buy in a 6-pack)


Pre-cooked, smoked 16.5 pound ham. (We get ours double-smoked from a local store that does their own meats and smoking.)

Bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes per pound.

I put the ham in a 9″ x 13″ pan, added 2 cups water, and covered with foil for first hour.

Then it’s time to uncover, baste with glaze and bake another hour. Baste with the glaze again until done. Let  it sit for 10 minutes or so before carving.


I put the pineapple juice in mixing up the ingredients and I knew that I would need a bit more glaze. Double it or make another half batch if you need more for the basting.


This is the ham after the first hour – and after the basting and second hour of baking.


When cutting this ham, try to get a little of the deliciously basted outside crust on every piece.


This has a nice caramelized crust and it’s moist and tender on the inside. Tender isn’t quite the word for it – I think I’d say it melts in your mouth.


Easter Ham is one of those “must have” and traditional food items at Easter dinner. Don’t forget to save the ham bone for a batch of Split Pea Soup! Try this glaze and ham it up! Ha! Ok, ok. I know – that’s enough. What are some of your Easter food traditions? I’d love to hear about them!




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Orange Tapioca Jello

Growing up on the lake, I remember springtime as being cold. It was sunny and it was green, but it was cold. I’m pretty sure this had something to do with the spring breeze blowing over the ice still left on the lake. Some years there would be a rim of open water at the edge of the ice, and we’d jump across to the ice and walk around on it. There were times, however, that there would be ice floes, which were big flat chunks of ice floating at the edge of the lake. The trick to jumping on and riding the floes was to never go farther or deeper than what you wanted to get wet if you fell off, and falling off was cold – very cold! Not that I know ANYTHING about that. Really. It was just so nice to be outside in that cold, clean, fresh air and see things growing and hear all the things melting. I also loved the wild flowers in the spring, and I had a secret place – ala The Secret Garden – where I could find all kinds of flowers to put into little glasses or vases around the house. This helped with the spring cleaning, when it was time to clear the dust and cobwebs of the winter away, open up the windows, and let in the fresh, clean air rush in and freshen everything up.

Today I’m sharing a jello salad that we always have for Easter dinner. I think the recipe originally came from Grandma years ago, and I still make it every year. The orange flavor makes it a perfect springtime treat. I don’t have the card for this anymore, so I’ll just type it out.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Orange Tapioca Jello

(This is the original recipe, but I usually double it, like I did here.)

1 package sugar-free orange jello

1 package sugar-free vanilla pudding

1 package tapioca pudding

11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained with liquid reserved

Boil jello and puddings with 3 cups water (using reserved mandarin orange juice as part of this).

When cool, top with Cool Whip (you can also use whipped cream) and mandarin oranges.


This is a fairly easy recipe, which is always nice to have when you’ve got a big holiday meal to prepare. I’m all for anything being easy, as long as it’s this delicious.

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The mixture is boiling hot, so if you’re worried about putting this into a good crystal bowl, let it cool down a bit before putting it into your pretty bowl or container. I’ve done this for years with this particular bowl, so I’m comfortable just putting it in there hot.


I usually top this with the Cool Whip/whipped cream and garnish with the mandarin orange segments, but to do this the way Grandma would have done it, we pass a separate bowl of whipped cream so everyone can put on (or not) what they want.


This is such a delicious recipe, and it always brings back happy memories for our family. We’ve been having this delicious salad for our Easter dinner for as long as I can remember, and it always signals springtime. Try this delicious and creamy salad – just right for springtime!



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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everybody!

I appreciate each and every one of you, dear readers!


Thank you so much for reading Plenty Sweet Life!!


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Easter Treats

Here are some past posts for Easter Treats that I think you’ll enjoy! Try them all!

Hopping Bunny Rolls

Hopping Bunny Rolls

Easter Bark

Easter Bark

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


Hot Crossed Buns

Iowa Ham Balls

Iowa Ham Balls






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Coconut Cake

The recipe for today comes from my sister, who makes this Coconut Cake a lot. Everybody who tries it absolutely loves it!! It was originally from the Kraft Foods website, and while I couldn’t find the exact recipe that my sister used (she had printed it out and it’s dated 2005 – she’s been making this cake a long time!), you can find a similar recipe here. I modified my sister’s recipe for this post to make cupcakes instead of one big cake. This recipe is totally right up Grandma’s alley and I know she would have loved this one: it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s delicious, and you can have all the ingredients on hand and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Coconut Cake

Prepare as directed on package:

1 yellow cake mix

Stir in:

2/3 cup coconut (7-oz. bag, divided – keep 2 cups for later)

Bake as directed.

Cool 10 minutes.

Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.

Pour into medium bowl and mix with wire whisk:

1 cup cold milk

1 small package (4 serving size) White Chocolate Instant Pudding & Pie Filling

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Beat with whisk until well blended – mixture will be thick.

Gently stir in:

1-8 oz. tub Cool Whip, thawed

Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

For Cake:

Place 1 of the cake layers on serving plate; spread top with 1 cup of the pudding mixture.

Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of remaining coconut; cover with second cake layer.

Spread top and side with remaining pudding mixture; press remaining coconut into pudding so entire cake is covered with the pudding mixture and coconut.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Store leftover cake in refrigerator.

For Cupcakes:

Frost top of cupcakes with pudding mixture and top with coconut.


This doesn’t look like a lot of coconut, but it really makes a difference in the batter.


I made the cupcakes instead of cake, but cake would be even faster to make!


I just had to show these pretty little cupcakes!!


First I put on a HUGE amount of the pudding mixture – there’s a lot of it if you’re not making a cake. Then to top it all off – the coconut! I put a lot of that one top, too, just because I love coconut!


Because it IS Easter, after all, I added some eggs for decoration. You could use any kind of eggs or jelly beans for this – go crazy! Kids would love to help decorate the cupcakes.


My intention, when deciding to make cupcakes instead of a cake, was to send these to work with my husband. Well, that’s not happening because there aren’t enough left. Let’s just say they went over well. The cupcakes turned out absolutely beautiful and I can see why everyone loves this cake!!! This one is perfect for any time you need a quick and delicious dessert to take anywhere! Go ahead – be the hit of your Easter gathering – and bring this beautiful cake (or cupcakes).



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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

Thanks for reading!




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Hot Crossed Buns

I make Hot Crossed Buns every year for Easter, mainly because they’re the perfect complement to leftover slices of Easter ham. Grandma’s youngest sister was supposed to have made the BEST Hot Crossed Buns, but I had never seen the recipe until I found it in Grandma’s file. This is a photo of this sister with my mom. She was a WAVE (we think) in WWII, and it looks like she was home on leave.

Hot Crossed Buns

I would say it’s springtime since the garden behind them isn’t looking too green and my mom has a little spring coat on. I was so excited to see that the recipe was in Grandma’s recipe file and that I would get a chance to try it! There are a lot of steps, but it really isn’t that hard or complicated. So here goes . . .

Hot Crossed Buns

Hot Crossed Buns 2

The house smells so good when these are baking!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Crossed Buns

1/2 cup warm water (not hot – 110-115 degrees)

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm milk

3/4 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes (it doesn’t say if they need to be warm so I made them the day before and they were cold)

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter (I didn’t know how well softened butter would mix in so I melted it and it worked just fine)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup raisins

4 1/4 cups flour, sifted

In mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water.

Mix in remaining ingredients except flour.

Add half of flour and beat until smooth.

Add enough of the rest of the flour to handle easily.

Mix by hand (I mixed the dough in my big mixer, but then kneaded it by hand).

Turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth.

Place in greased bowl, flip greased side up (I cover with plastic wrap), and let rise in warm place (85 degrees) until double (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch down, put on floured board, cover, and let rest 10-15 minutes.

Divide dough into 2 halves and divide each half into 16 pieces.

Place pieces into greased 9 inch round or square cake pan (I smooth the pieces like I would if I was making buns).

My round cake pans were only 8 inches, so I did have a few left that I just put on a baking sheet.

Brush with egg yolk glaze (beat 1 egg yolk with 2 Tablespoons water), and let rise again until double (30 minutes).

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Remove from pan and let cool.

Make “X” on top with powdered sugar icing: about 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar mixed with 2 Tablespoons or so milk or cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla.


I never really know how smooth is smooth enough when kneading dough. This is how far I went, and you can see the size of the ball of dough before rising.


I cover with plastic wrap so the dough doesn’t develop a skin and have a hard time rising. This is also how much it grew during the first “rise”.


Punch it down, cover it, and let it rest a bit.


I use a serrated knife to cut the dough into pieces.


These are the pieces of dough before and after baking.


You really don’t need a lot of icing for making the “X” on top. I use a snack sized zip top bag as my icing bag. Just put the icing in, zip the top, cut a small piece off of one corner of the bag, and squeeze from the top. Just toss when you’re done!


I LOVE how these turned out – they’re nice and compact.


They’re already in my freezer ready for Easter!


These buns are a tradition in our family and I’m so glad I found this recipe from my great-aunt – they’re my new favorite! It’s a fairly easy recipe and they’re DELICIOUS!!! Try these – it will be your new favorite, too!



Some Fun Easter Ideas

I’m sharing some fun Easter ideas today. We had 8 inches of snow yesterday in Minnesota, and I’m determined to make it springtime, no matter what! So let’s pretend it’s sunny and 70 degrees out there. Things change fast in Minnesota this time of year – maybe it will be that warm by the time Easter is here.

easter bunnies

I made a bunch of these bunnies last Easter and gave them as gifts. They’re so cute and colorful! I found the pattern on a blog called Twig and Thistle and you can get the pattern here.


I make these Hopping Bunny Rolls for family and friends every year. They’re from a cookbook I got when I was 12. They’re delicious and it wouldn’t be Easter without them.

bunny napkin

One of my daughters did these cute bunny napkin folds from Martha Stewart for our Easter table last year (this photo is from Martha’s website, not from our table). They were so cute we hated to use our napkins and ruin the beautiful bunnies!


Everyone is doing their own version of this Easter Bark, and I posted mine last year. It’s so festive and so pretty and so GOOD! It’s easy to do and kids love to help make it!

These fun ideas should get us going to MAKE spring happen. Let’s get it started! Easter is just around the corner!






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