Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Easter Braid

This recipe for Easter Braid comes from the same cookbook that has the Hopping Bunny Rolls recipe in it. It was the Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Cookbook copyright 1970 that I got for my 12th birthday, and I’ve been using the holiday recipes in that book ever since. I make the Hopping Bunny Rolls every year – it’s now a family tradition – but I have never tried this Easter Braid. Mostly because I always make the Hopping Bunny Rolls, and we don’t need more sweet bread. Well, maybe just the two kinds. There may be a new tradition in my future. Oops – I forgot the third kind of sweet bread – Hot Crossed Buns. The more the merrier, I guess. I’m so glad I tried this bread. It kind of tastes like a Christmas bread, only strangely more like a spring time sweet bread. It must be the lemon rind that’s put in it. Whatever. I’m not going to over-analyze it, I’m just going to enjoy it.

This is an all day recipe – it takes some time, but it’s totally worth it!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Easter Braid

Soften in 1/4 cup warm water:

1 package active dry yeast

Combine:

1 cup milk, scalded

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup softened butter, margarine, or shortening (I used butter)

Cool to lukewarm.

Stir in:

about 2 cups of flour

Add:

2 eggs

Mix well.

Stir in:

softened yeast

Add:

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon mace (opt.-  I don’t use mace for anything, so I don’t keep that in my cupboard – I googled it and found out that allspice can be substituted, so I used that)

1 cup raisins

3 1/2 to 4 cups flour (enough to make a soft dough)

Let rest 10 minutes.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.

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

Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch down; let rise until almost double (about 1 hour).

Divide and round dough into 2 balls, one for each loaf.

Let rest, covered, 10 minutes.

For each loaf:

Divide one ball in fourths

Shape 3 parts into strands 12 inches long, tapering ends.

Line up strands 1 inch apart on lightly greased baking sheet.

Braid loosely without stretching dough, beginning in the middle and working toward either end.

Seal ends well.

Divide remaining dough into thirds.

Shape into strands 8-9 inches long, tapering ends.

Braid loosely and place on top of large braid, tucking ends of small braid into large one.

Cover and let rise until double.

Bake loaves at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

While warm, spread with Sugar Glaze.

Makes 2 loaves.

Sugar Glaze:

Mix until well blended:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup hot water

1 teaspoon butter or margarine (I used butter)

Drizzle over warm Easter Braid.

When the dough is mixed up, put it into the lightly greased bowl and flip it over. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise.

Let rise until double – about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down and let rise another 1 hour.

Divide the dough into two balls, cover, and let rest 10 minutes.

Cut each ball into 4 even parts. Roll 3 of the parts into logs about 12 inches long and braid together loosely. tucking under the ends. Cut the remaining part into 3 parts, roll those 3 parts into logs about 9 inches long, braid those loosely, and put on top of the larger braid, tucking in the ends. Cover and let rise until double.

After the loaves are baked, drizzle on the Sugar Glaze. What a perfect place for an action shot!

I don’t know – is that enough glaze? What do you think? I think it’s a good thing this recipe makes 2 loaves. That’s what I think.

I really don’t know why I’ve never tried this recipe before. It’s weird – for all the years I’ve had this cookbook. I’m just glad I decided to try this one now. I WILL be making this one again. It’s amazingly delicious and I can’t wait to try it as a sandwich with our Easter ham. This is the year –  try this Easter Braid and “wow” your family and friends!

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Sesame-Orange Scones

Today I’m sharing a recipe for Sesame-Orange Scones that comes from a magazine article that I ripped out of a magazine years ago. This magazine article had both the Chocolate Chip Scones and Maple Pecan Scones recipes in it, and as I’ve said before, I’m working my way through trying all of those scone recipes because they’ve all been so good. I can’t remember what magazine I ripped them out of (although I THINK it might have been Country Living Magazine) but this ripped out article (which is 9 pages long) has been around here for years. These Sesame-Orange Scones would be great for your Easter breakfast with that delicious sesame and orange flavor.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sesame-Orange Scones

In a large bowl, combine:

3 cups flour

1/2 cup sesame seeds (set aside 1 Tablespoon)

3 Tablespoons grated orange rind (set aside 1 Tablespoon)

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

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

2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening (I used butter)

Add to dry ingredients:

1 cup orange juice (set aside 1 Tablespoon)

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

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently 5 or 6 times.

With a lightly floured rolling-pin, roll dough into a 7-inch round (I just used my hands to make the dough into a 7-inch round).

Cut into 4 wedges.

Place scones 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet.

Pierce tops of scones with a fork.

Put in a small saucepan:

reserved 1 Tablespoon orange juice

3 Tablespoons sugar

Heat to boiling and then stir in:

reserved 1 Tablespoon orange rind

Brush over tops of scones.

Sprinkle with:

reserved 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

Bake at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Brush again with orange glaze.

Serve warm.

Sesame seeds seem to be an unusual ingredient for scones, but they do add a nice, crunch along with a nutty flavor.

I used my pastry blender to mix in the butter.

Ready for the orange juice.

This was how much I mixed it with a fork before turning it out to knead.

I wanted to make the recipe just as it was, but next time I would definitely cut the 7-inch round into more than 4 pieces. 6 or even 8 scones seems more logical.

The scones were huge in the end, and a bit doughy inside – not quite baked through. Cutting them into smaller scones would help that not happen next time.

Even though they weren’t quite done in the middle, these scones were amazingly delicious. They’d be another great treat for Easter morning. That crunch of the sesame seeds and the delicious and somewhat sticky orange glaze make these melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Your family would love it if you made these Sesame-Orange Scones for their Easter morning breakfast!

 

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Easter Blonde Brownies

Today’s recipe for Easter Blonde Brownies is the recipe for Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownies that I’ve made on the blog before – I just made it into a holiday treat! I mean, this recipe was from before the name for this type of  bars was Blondies. These bars are so different from brownies. My mom always made brownies when we were growing up, mainly because she has a chocolate problem, but these are more of almost a caramel flavor from the brown sugar. Oh my. This recipe is really, really, really good. I mean it. These are ANOTHER total red light food for me. I. Can’t. Stop. They. Are. So. Good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Easter Blonde Brownies

Sift together:

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add:

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I didn’t use nuts for this batch)

Mix well and set aside.

Melt:

1/3 cup butter

Add:

1 cup packed brown sugar

Cool.

Add:

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add flour mixture to the egg mixture a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Pour into 9″ x 9″ pan.

Sprinkle on Easter chocolate candies and sprinkles (or chocolate chips as in the recipe for Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownies).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Cool in pan.

This is a very easy recipe with minimal ingredients.

It does make a thick batter.

I used a little offset spatula to spread the batter in the pan.

I think this would be another fun one to try to put all kinds of candies on top of the bars: jelly beans, peanut butter cups, Peeps, etc.

What a festive and pretty holiday treat! I love making something ordinary into something more extraordinary by using holiday candies and sprinkles – it’s just so fun! Go crazy and try your own variation of these delicious – and very festive – Easter Blonde Brownies!

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Blueberry Breakfast Bread

This recipe for Blueberry Breakfast Bread is so ridiculously easy, it’s amazing. It came from the same cookbook that I use for the Hopping Bunny Rolls that I’ve made every year since I was a teenager. The recipe is so short and sweet – it’s almost laughable. In fact, when I was looking through that cookbook recently, I laughed out loud when I saw it. I’ve never noticed this particular recipe before, and I just don’t know why. It’s a great quick and easy recipe, perfect for Easter morning. Speaking of Easter morning, I just had to share this photo of my other grandma (she’s the oldest in the back) and her younger sister and one of her two younger brothers. I don’t know if it was Easter or not when this photo was taken, but by the looks of it they were dressed in their Sunday best. I can’t stand it! This is just the cutest!

They really are dressed up! My grandma looks like she was about 7 or 8 years old in this one, so that would have made it about 1918 or 1919 or so. I just love the dresses and how they have their hair done and the fact that both girls are wearing pearls. And just look at her little brother’s little black shoes! So sweet.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Prepare according to package directions (it says to prepare according to package instructions for coffee cake or loaf cake, but the package I used didn’t have any instructions for those, and the product website didn’t either, so I just made the muffin mix the regular way):

1 package of blueberry muffin mix

Pour into a greased 8 1/2 inch round baking dish (I used a 9″ square pan).

Mix:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

Cut in with a pastry blender until crumbly:

2 Tablespoons butter

Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

The muffin mix that I used called for 1/2 cup of either water or milk. I used milk. Maybe next time I’d try a different kind of muffin – I think any flavor of muffin mix would be delicious.

This breakfast bread would be pretty in a round pan, but I used a square one for this. It seems like a lot of topping for the muffin batter, but put it all on – it’s delicious!

The topping bakes up crispy and sweet – plenty sweet!

The recipe says to serve warm with butter, but I really don’t think it needs butter. It’s so good just plain.

I can’t believe how good this bread is (I actually think of it as more of a coffee cake), and how quick and easy it is to make. It’s perfect for Easter morning when you have enough to do – you don’t want to add extra work when it’s not necessary. I think this would be a great breakfast bread to bring with you if you’re heading to someone else’s home to celebrate Easter, too. The blueberry was good, but try other flavors, too, and see how that goes. This Blueberry Breakfast Bread is absolutely delicious – you’re gonna love it!

 

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Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Easter is very early this year, but spring is dragging her feet here in Minnesota!

We need a little springtime cheer, so I’m sending you a little flower to brighten your day!

I hope where ever you live, the snow is melting and the temperatures are rising!

Thank you for stopping – I appreciate all of you!

I wish each and every one of you, dear readers, a very Happy Easter and a very Happy Spring!

 

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Hearty Carrot Cake

This recipe for Hearty Carrot Cake is one that I’ve been waiting for Easter to try. (I love carrot cake and so does my middle daughter – whose birthday just so happens to be in April.) It’s time to try this one since Easter is this weekend.

I noticed that I haven’t been sharing photos lately (mainly because I’ve been under the weather since September), so I’m sharing one today. This photo of me with my Easter basket looks like I was about 3 years old. It was always such a big deal to wear your prettiest Easter dress with the white shoes and anklets – the only thing missing here are the white gloves and Easter bonnet! LOVE those chubby legs!

We lived right next door to my other Grandma and Gramp at this point (in the upstairs apartment of the white house behind me – they lived in the house behind the photographer), and this photo was probably taken by Gramp when he got his first Polaroid camera. You would shoot the photo and the camera would spit out the photo and you had to peel the photo off of the backing and wait for it to develop. I would say the bad quality of this one was either bad film or user error. You can still kind of see me – if you squint!

This is another easy recipe from Grandma!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hearty Carrot Cake

Put into mixing bowl:

1 3/4 cups flour

(The next thing on the recipe is a package of Pillsbury Coconut Almond or Coconut Pecan Frosting Mix. I don’t know of it’s a mistake or what. Is this supposed to be part of the cake or go on top of the cake? I left it out. Actually, I don’t even know if they still make these frosting mixes.)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup wheat germ, if desired (I left this out)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups (4 medium) shredded carrots

8 ounce can (1 cup) crushed pineapple, drained (Grandma says here to save 1/4 up of the juice, but we never use it in this recipe. Was it to mix with the frosting mix? I just don’t know. I didn’t save it or use it.)

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup oil (I used canola)

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

Pour batter into greased and floured 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. (Here Grandma says to cool 10 minutes, so I think she didn’t finished writing out this recipe. I think it was supposed to have the instructions for the frosting at the end. My family loves Cream Cheese Icing, so I used the recipe for that from another Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Icing recipe I’ve done on here previously.)

Icing:

Mix well:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 pound (3 1/2 cups) powdered sugar

Sprinkle on top of cake:

3/4 cup nuts, chopped (I didn’t put these on as some in my family don’t care for them.)

This cake didn’t rise much – you can see that it didn’t even come halfway up the pan.

This is a great recipe for Cream Cheese Icing. I mean really – who are we kidding – the cake is just a vehicle for the icing. Seriously.

This cake is not light and airy – it’s moist, dense, and absolutely delicious.

You can see how full of carrots and pineapple this is. It’s so good. The cake looks a lot like the Carrot Bars I made last year, but the cake tastier than the bars. Try this Hearty Carrot Cake, and if you use the wheat germ in it, let me know how it turns out!

 

 

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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.

Glaze:

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

Glaze:

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)

Ham:

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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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