Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Thimble Cookies

Today’s recipe for Thimble Cookies comes from my other grandma. She had written it into one of her old church cookbooks, so I’m thinking it must be a good one. Thimble cookies seems like a strange name, so I had to research the internet and see if they are a “thing”. Turns out they can go a couple of different ways. One way is to use your thimble to cut out the cookies after rolling out the dough. Excuse me. That would make really tiny cookies. Who wants that? I’m not going to go through the trouble of making rolled out cookies and make them tiny and then people (I’m thinking of my husband here) would just pop them into their mouths by the handful like a snack and they’d be gone in no time. No, sir and no thank you. The second way I found was to make an indent in the cookie for putting a cherry or a nut or jam in the middle of the cookie (I assume you’d technically use the thimble to make the indent). This makes more sense to me. It seems to be that this is the forerunner to Thumbprint Cookies. Maybe someone used a thimble to make the hole to hold the jam back in the day, but now people just use their thumb to do it. For those of you who don’t know what a thimble is, it’s a metal cup that fits on the tip of one of your fingers so you can push a needle through fabric without hurting your fingertip – you know, when you’re darning your socks or something. For those of you who don’t know what darning your socks means, it’s when you use a needle and thread to sew up holes in your socks. For those of you who don’t know what a needle and thread are . . . oh forget it. Anyway, I’m excited to try this cookie. I don’t remember Grandma ever making these, but she must have had them somewhere and liked them or she wouldn’t have written it down.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Thimble Cookies

Mix together:

1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoon vanilla

Roll in balls, dip in unbeaten egg white.

Roll ball in:

1 cup very finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Make impression in center (with the thimble? I used my thumb).

Bake at 360 degrees for 5 minutes (not 350 degrees – 360 degrees – that’s what she wrote).

Fill hole with cherry or nut and bake 12 minutes more.

I made the balls a little smaller than a walnut, but I would make them half that size next time. They ended up bigger than I thought they’d be. Surprise – I made the cookies bigger than they’re supposed to be! Imagine that.

I basically set up a dipping and rolling station. Roll the balls (do a few at a time cuz your fingers get messy), dip them in the egg white, and roll them in the very finely chopped nuts (I didn’t chop the nuts finely enough, either). Then onto the baking sheet. For some reason, I couldn’t find my thimbles ( I do have several), so I used my thumb to make the indentations in the cookies.

After the first 5 minutes, they come back out of the oven to fill the holes.

I used cherry halves because I thought a whole cherry wasn’t necessary. Next time I’d use a whole cherry. I seriously don’t know why I think I know better than the grandmas. Just follow the recipe.

Even though the cookies are probably bigger than they’re supposed to be, they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I’m not even kidding about that melt-in-your-mouth thing. They’re so festive and pretty, too, and they’ll look spectacularly beautiful on the cookie plate. This may be a new cookie that I make every year. Thanks to my other grandma, you, too can make use of your thimble and make these Thimble Cookies!


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Cherry Cha Cha

Todays recipe for Cherry Cha Cha comes from my other grandma. I think this was another one of her tasty, but quick to make bowling night desserts, a lot like her Layered Pudding Delight that I’ve posted before. I used to love being at Grandma and Gramp’s house on Thursday nights when Gramp went bowling. The ladies would stay at the house of whoever was hosting to gossip and knit or crochet projects to be used for later Christmas gifts or given to lucky grandchildren to wear. When Grandma and Gramp were hosting, Grandma made sure that I always had some needles and a bit of yarn to work on, too. It made me feel like I was a part of the group and I’d sit and listen to the ladies talk and work on my project while they worked on theirs. When the men were done bowling, they’d hurry back to the house for coffee and a tasty dessert made by the hostess, where there would be the roar of laughter and even more talking around the dining room table or in the living room. When I think of it now, it seems like those must have been late nights for those still working. The laughing and the coffee and the desserts seemed to go on all night.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cherry Cha Cha


1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup margarine, melted (I used butter)

3 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Reserve 2 Tablespoons for topping.

Press rest of mixture into an 8″ x 8″ pan (Grandma wrote to put it into an 8″ x 13″ pan, but after putting the crumbs into it, it seemed way too big – I think she meant 8″ x 8″).



1/2 pint heavy whipping cream


4 cups miniature marshmallows

Carefully out half of this mixture on top of the chilled crust (I used a large spoon to put dollops on top and the spread it very gently over the top).

Put on top of this:

1 can cherry pie filling

Put on top of this:

the rest of the whipped cream mixture

Carefully spread it over the top of the cherry pie filling.

Top with rest of the graham cracker crumb mixture.

Refrigerate overnight.

Don’t forget to keep out a bit for the topping!

The miniature marshmallows go in looking like marshmallows, but after sitting overnight, they seem to meld into the whipped cream and make those layers firm up.

I used a small offset spatula to spread the layers. You really do have to be careful or you’ll dig into the layer underneath.

This has to be the right size pan – a bigger one would have made the dessert pretty thin.

It’s a pretty rich dessert, which means it’s perfect with a cup of coffee.

While it’s rich and full of whipped cream and pie filling, it still seems like a nice, light dessert. It’s delicious and is such an easy recipe with relatively few ingredients. Call up your group: sports team, friends, family, co-workers and have them over for a nice dessert and a cup of coffee. They’re sure to appreciate your offer of this Cherry Cha Cha with a chance to laugh, talk and gossip!


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Cabbage Salad

I was incredibly lucky to have 2 sets of amazing and very loving grandparents. My Gramp was the first to leave us, but not until I was in college, so I was able to enjoy all of my grandparents most of my growing up years. This photo is of my other grandparents and me when I was about 3 months old. We lived next door to them until we moved to the lake when I was 8, and I was at their house almost every day.


The recipe for today is from this grandma. She made Cabbage Salad every time the whole family was all at their house for dinner. There were 12-16 of us when all of my aunts and uncles and cousins were there, and I’m sure this was just an economical thing. Also, this salad goes with absolutely everything. There isn’t really a card for this – I watched and helped her make this my whole life, so I just always knew how to do it. I’m going to try and write down what I do, but I have to admit that this changes a little bit from time to time, depending on what I have on hand and how I’m feeling on the day I make it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cabbage Salad

Shred :

1 head of cabbage.


(All of these measurements are approximate depending on how big the head of cabbage is. Feel free to taste and adjust the sugar and vinegar to your liking.)

1 cup mayonnaise

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar


Add to the shredded cabbage and combine.


2 sliced bananas


pineapple chunks.


You can use a food processor to shred the cabbage, or hone your shredding skills with a knife.


I used bananas for this salad, but grandma did occasionally use pineapple. Pineapple was probably for really special occasions.


This is definitely an unusual flavor combination. Not everyone in my family liked this made with bananas.


This salad is economical, it’s tasty, and it goes with any main dish. It brings back a lot of memories for me of dinners at Gramp and Grandma’s with the family around the dining room table laughing, telling stories, and being together. It was so much fun. Those are memories I’ll always cherish.



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Fantasy Fudge

The recipe for today came from my other grandma. She loved Christmas, too, and made a lot of goodies every year. She had a sister-in-law who made a lot of candy, and that’s probably where she got a lot of these Christmas candy recipes. I used to sit for hours in front of Grandma and Gramp’s big silver Christmas tree watching the color wheel change colors over and over and over again. They had blue decorations on it and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I would lay right down under the bottom branches and watch the glittering branches change from red to blue to green to yellow. I loved that tree. Gramp had a sweet tooth like no other, and at Christmastime he would come home with many different kinds of Christmas candy. That may be why Grandma made so many different kinds of candy at that time of year. I know that she got this recipe for Fantasy Fudge from a family member sometime in the 1970’s, and that’s how long I’ve been making it, too. This does make a big batch, which is good, cuz it doesn’t last long. Just sayin’.



Oh man, does this bring back memories of Christmas back in the day!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fantasy Fudge

Combine in heavy pan:

3 cups sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk (5 oz. can)

3/4 cup butter

Bring to a full boil.

Boil 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in:

12 ounce package of chocolate chips

Stir until melted.


7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme

1 cup nuts, chopped (I didn’t add nuts because not all in my family like them)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until well blended.

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Cool at room temperature.


Again – pretty simple ingredients that add up to a delicious treat!


Get the syrup boiling away.


Add the chocolate chips.


Mix in the vanilla and the marshmallow crème.


Pour it into a baking pan.


That’s it! A huge batch of fudge that will last you into the new year. Maybe.


This is another ridiculously quick and easy recipe that makes a lot – perfect for gift giving or as part of your cookie tray. If you want this to last until into the new year, I guess I would hide some. That’s what I have to do in my family, or there just won’t be any left. If you don’t hide it, it’s just too handy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!





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Buttermilk Donuts

The recipe for today is from my other grandma. She loved to bake all kinds of things, and I remember helping her make donuts from time to time. I don’t know if these are the actual donuts we made together, or if there were several different kinds that she made. Either way, these Buttermilk Donuts are delicious and pretty easy to do. It’s hunting season, and we made donuts for my dad to take deer hunting every year. Inevitably, I get a hankerin’ for donuts in the fall, so it’s time to make the donuts. My sister is an all-pro donut maker and she can whip up a batch of donuts like nobody’s business, but I’m not quite as good at it. Oh well, let’s give these a try . . .


I had to have my husband take these to work just to get them out of the house or I would have finished them off – not even kidding!

Here is the recipe as I made it (there is an omission on the card, so pay attention to my typing it out instead of following the card):

Buttermilk Donuts


2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup oil (I used canola)

Mix dry ingredients together:

4 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Add alternately with dry mixture to first mixture:

1 cup buttermilk (this is the part left off of the card)

Beat (I used a wooden spoon).

Roll out on floured board, cut, and fry in 375 degree oil (I used canola oil).


The dough will seem sticky at first, but if you flour the dough and the rolling-pin, it will work out just fine. If they do stick – and sometimes they do – I just use a metal spatula to get underneath the donuts and get them off the board (or in this case, my countertop).


I still have an old donut cutter that has the middle cutter that cuts out the hole, but you could also use 2 different sized glasses to cut out the donuts, too.


What better use for a big cast iron skillet? Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil and try to keep it at 375 degrees. Don’t put too many donuts in at one time – that lowers the temperature. Here’s a hint – keep the oil bottle to put the used oil back into for disposal.


This made a pretty big batch, but I felt that some of the donuts got a bit wonky, but I don’t need them to all look the same. The taste is what’s important.


You don’t have to roll the donuts in sugar, but that’s the way our family likes them. If you do it when they’re warm, the sugar sticks better.


There is nothing better than donuts (note that I said donuts, not donut) with a cup of coffee. Ya gotta dunk!


These donuts are just the best! I love them and you will, too. It’s not as hard as you think – just heat up your oil, mix up the dough, cut out the donuts, and then fry them until they’re golden. Simple dimple.




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Another After School Snack – Graham Crackers With Frosting

These treats were something that my other grandma made me for a snack when I was growing up. We lived right next door to my other grandma and gramp for the first 8 years of my life and I would go to their house after school from kindergarten through second grade. She would make these for me for an after school snack while I watched the cartoons “Yogi Bear” and “The Flintstones”.  She taught me how to make them and eventually I made them for all of my kids after school while they were growing up. There really isn’t a name for these, so we’ll call them Graham Crackers With Frosting. All three of my kids grew up having these as an after school snack all throughout their grade school, middle school, and high school years. My son says they’re absolutely necessary, even though they really were a special treat because there was usually the obligatory graham crackers and peanut butter to snack on while watching the “Garfield and Friends” cartoon after school. And if it’s at all possible, he’d still like the people in charge to bring back that cartoon. He’s an adult but he’d still watch that show every day if it was on somewhere out there in TV land.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Graham Crackers With Frosting

Combine for frosting:

1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on how thick you want the frosting)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla, peppermint, lemon or any flavor you like)

2 Tablespoons milk

Stir and spread on graham crackers.


These cracker snacks really are incredibly easy to make.


Mix up the frosting and spread it on the crackers. Done. You could also try different kinds of graham cracker for this. Chocolate or cinnamon would be nice.


You can make the frosting as thick as you like by adding more powdered sugar. Just remember – the longer they sit, the thicker the frosting gets.


These are even fun to make open-faced. Add mini chocolate chips, colored sugar (Minnesota Viking colors here), or sprinkles to match an appropriate holiday (Halloween is coming).


This may be a simple snack, but they sure are good! I hope you give these a try. They’re a GREAT after school snack – even for grown ups. Turn on some cartoons, pour a big glass or milk, and munch on a few of these with your kids!



Everyday Cookies

The recipe for today comes from my other grandma. I remember her making these cookies when I was in junior high. I got the recipe from her, and I’ve been making them ever since. I’m not sure why they’re called Everyday Cookies unless it’s because the ingredients are all things that you would more than likely have on hand so you could make them every day. I also like that this recipe makes a large batch, and you can make these and they would last awhile. That’s why these are a good summertime cookie. Make them once and put some in the freezer, then take them out again later when you need more of them. Which will probably be the next day. I mean, it’s all good in theory to put some of them in the freezer, but it won’t take long and you’ll be heading back to your freezer for the rest of them. I promise. You will. Just you wait and see!


These cookies are so good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Everyday Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup margarine (I used butter)

1 cup oil (I used canola oil)

Add the rest of the ingredients:

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup Rice Krispies

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup coconut

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup nuts, chopped finely (I used walnuts)

Roll in balls and press with a glass dipped in sugar (I roll one ball, then wipe the bottom of the glass with my hand so the sugar will stick to the glass). You will find that you need to dip the glass in sugar for each cookie.

Bake at 350 degrees until light brown, about 12-15 minutes.


I used my trusty scoop to make these all about the same size, and yes, I would have gotten even more of them if I had just made them without the scoop. The scoop definitely makes them bigger. My boys don’t mind it when I use the scoop.


The cookies come out golden brown and absolutely delicious!


They have a crispy, sugary crust on the outside and they just melt in your mouth!


This cookie is ridiculously good, and are so great with afternoon coffee or tea. It’s good with morning coffee or tea, and it’s also good with evening coffee or tea. These cookies are just plain good, any time you eat them. Make a big batch of these delicious cookies and make summer baking easy on yourself. It’s a good thing this recipe does make a big batch, because you WILL want more of them, and because your family will want more of them, too! Just so you know, I DID put half of these in the freezer and guess what? They’ve disappeared. I told my husband and he said, “you’ll have to make more!” Um – who should make more? I say the person who sneaked all the cookies out of the freezer should be the one to make more. I’m still waiting . . .







Lemon Bread

This recipe is from my other grandma. She was a great cook and baker, and she loved to do both! I’m sharing this photo today of what might be their wedding photo – they sure look dressed up! That’s Grandma and Gramp in the middle and Gramp’s brother on the left and Grandma’s sister on the right, and I think they were part of the wedding party. I love this one!


Their hairdo’s are what struck me. It looks like the girls have just had their hair done with not a pin curl out of place, and the boys look like they have the hair cuts of today! They all look so incredibly young!

The recipe for today is for Lemon Bread and I have to say, this is the best lemon bread I’ve ever had. It has a glaze that’s put on last, and that makes all the difference.



This one is so good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Bread


1 package lemon cake mix

1 package lemon instant pudding

1/2 cup salad oil (I used canola)

1 cup water


4 eggs

one at a time beating well.

Mix in:

1 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts)

Put in two greased loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.


1/2 cup sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Before removing from the pans, spoon the glaze over the loaves.

Let sit in pan 10 minutes.

Cool on rack.


Lemon cake mix, lemon pudding, lemon juice in the glaze. No wonder this bread is so delicious.


Don’t forget to leave the loaves in the pan so the glaze can soak in with all its lemon goodness.


It seems like a lot of glaze, but go ahead and use it ALL!


The loaves come out of the pan easily and are so pretty.


Since there are two loaves, you can share one with someone special. Just wrap it up and put a ribbon on it!


This bread is so lemony and so good – it has a very true lemon flavor. The glaze over the top really makes it so special. Make up these two loaves and share one with a friend. They’ll be a friend for life!



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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.




Christmas Layer Salad

I’m sharing one of my favorite Christmas photos today. This is me when I was 3 and Santa with the mask – that’s my Grandpa. I’m shocked that I actually took the present from him because I was always so scared of Santa. Maybe it had something to do with the creepy mask! I’m sure he wore it because if he didn’t have a mask, I’d know him, but wow.


This was taken at my other Grandma and Gramp’s house and those are my cousins with me. Christmas there was always a lot of fun and total chaos!

The recipe for today comes from my other Grandma. She loved to cook and loved to have all of us at their house for the holidays. I remember her making this Christmas Layer Salad once in a while, and I remember that it was very good and very festive. It looks more complicated than it really is, but it does take some time. Each layer is firmed up before adding the next.

CHristmas Layer Salad

CHristmas Layer Salad 2

This really is easier than it seems!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Christmas Layer Salad

Use a 9″ x 13″ pan.

It’s helpful to read through entire recipe before starting.

Lime layer:

Dissolve in 1 cup hot water:

1 – 3 ounce package lime Jello


1 cup crushed pineapple and juice

Chill until firm.

Cheese layer:

Dissolve 1 1/2 teaspoons Knox Gelatin in 2 Tablespoons cold water.


8 ounce cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup milk

Spread over firm lime layer.

Cranberry layer:

Add 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup ground cranberries.

Let sit for several hours (I did this first before anything else so it had time to sit, but you could even do it the night before).

Prepare 2 – 3 ounce packages of raspberry or strawberry Jello according to package instructions.

Add cranberries to Jello.


Pour over cheese layer and chill until firm.


The first thing I did was get the cranberries ground (I used my food processor) and mixed with the sugar so it could sit for a couple of hours.


Here we go with layer #1 – mixing the green layer and getting it into the refrigerator to firm up.


Next is layer #2 – mixing the middle white layer, spreading it over the green layer, and into the refrigerator to firm that one up.


The final layer #3 – mixing the cranberries with the strawberry Jello, pouring it over the middle white layer, and into the refrigerator to firm up.


Here is the salad ready for the refrigerator. I was surprised at how fast the layers set up. This was overall, pretty fast to make.


Here is the final salad – so pretty!


You can see the three separate layers – so festive!


This salad is absolutely delicious! The Jello layers are “plenty sweet” but the middle creamy layer tones that down and makes it so good! My other Grandma loved Christmas and loved to cook. This has a lot of steps, but is really easy and quick to make. I can see why she wanted me to have this recipe. It’s just about the most festive Christmas salad I’ve ever seen!





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