Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Tater Tot Hotdish

The recipe for today is an old stand-by in our family. Believe it or not, it’s another one that came from my 7th grade Home Ec class!! It’s such an easy thing to start with when you’re first learning to cook. Maybe that has something to do with it being everyone’s favorite. Tater Tot Hotdish is a recipe that everyone HAS to have, and I’m sure most people do, but I just had to share this one for this oh so important comfort food. I don’t know how people can get by without it. It’s tasty, it’s comforting, it’s easy to do, it’s just the BEST!!!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tater Tot Hotdish

Brown in skillet:

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 small onion, chopped


1 can of cream soup (mushroom or celery)

Place in bottom of casserole dish:

1 can vegetables (corn, beans, mixed – I sometimes like to add a 1/2 cup of frozen peas)

Place on top of that:

ground beef mixture

Top with:

2-3 cups Tater Tots

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.


This recipe is all about layering starting with the ground beef, onion, and soup mixture. Oops! I put the meat in first on this one! Any way you layer it, it will still be delicious!


Next is the can of vegetables. I just HAVE to add frozen peas – it’s all about the color for me.


Last, but definitely not least, the tots – baked until they’re golden brown and crispy.


OMG. Now that’s a thing of beauty.


Everybody just HAS to have this recipe, so I just HAD to have it on the blog. You just can’t beat those old Home Ec recipes – they’re just so good. This is one of my all time favorites and I just love it, whether I need comforting or not. What’s your favorite comfort food?






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Meaty 3 Bean Bake

My family couldn’t decide what to make of this dish. Is it a main dish or is it a side dish? Even though it’s a lot like the recipe for Calico Beans that is so popular, I think it’s a main dish – specifically a hotdish – there’s a lot of meat in it. Either way, this Meaty 3 Bean Bake is delicious!!! This is another one that I’m so glad we found in my sister’s book of handwritten recipes. I always love it when the recipes are written in grandma’s handwriting. The recipes that were written out for us are nothing but the best ones that were made again and again. Those are the dishes that we all love the most, and I’m so glad we have a lot of those handwritten recipes from both of my grandmas. Typing them out is ok, because at least you have the recipe, but how much more interesting and special is it to have it in your mother’s or grandmother’s handwriting with all of their little margin notes on it? It’s one of those things that you just don’t think about until it’s too late and they’re gone. They’re so special and so much fun to see it in their writing with the funny little extra things written on them. I’m so glad we have the ones we have.


This is definitely meaty!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Meaty 3 Bean Bake

Brown in a large skillet:

1/2 pound bacon, cut up

1 1/2 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup onion, chopped

Mix all together with:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon mustard

2 teaspoons vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 can butter beans, drained

1 can pork and beans

Pour into casserole.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


This is just another in the long line of easy to make, delicious hotdishes in grandma’s recipe file.


Pour it into the casserole and into the oven it goes!


You can see the beans, beef, and bacon that make this such a wonderful dish.


Half an hour later and it’s a delicious main dish (in my opinion), ready for dinner. Your family and friends will love this one and it will be one of those “go-to” recipes you will make again and again. Soon it will be your family’s favorite, and you can write it out for their future use. Typing it out is great, but when you have actually written it – much more special. Write it out. In your handwriting.



Chicken (or Ham) Supreme

This recipe can be made two ways – with chicken or with ham. I’m making Chicken Supreme today, but I’m making it with ham. This is a recipe I found at my sister’s house. She had a cookbook in which both of our grandmas, our mom, and myself had handwritten out family favorite recipes. It was another great book to find – handwritten by the grandmas and mom – so awesome to have. I immediately scanned them and emailed them to myself at home for future use (this was during the January 30 inch snowfall/blizzard we had while I was visiting my sister at her house in January). You know that in this kind of cookbook, they’re only writing out the best ones.


This is another one that is very typically a “grandma recipe”.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chicken (or Ham) Supreme

Mix all together:

2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken or ham

2 cups cream of mushroom soup (I just used one can – I didn’t measure it out)

1 cup milk

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 pound Velveeta, grated or cubed

4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 (8 oz.) can mushrooms and stems (it doesn’t say to drain the mushrooms, so put the whole thing in)

1 small onion, chopped

1 (1 lb.) package of macaroni, uncooked

1/2 stick butter (I don’t know if this was supposed to be on the buttered breadcrumbs to put on top or just added into the hotdish, so I added it to the hotdish)

Refrigerate overnight.

Cover with buttered breadcrumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


You know how I love a dish that can be made ahead. I love that this is another one that you can make the night before and have all ready to go the next night for dinner. This was made on a Wednesday, and due to circumstances beyond my control, it didn’t get baked until Saturday. It was just fine. Good to know that it can be made even a couple of days ahead of time.


I made this in individual baking dishes – better for lunches or single servings.


Because these didn’t get baked right away, I totally forgot to put on the buttered breadcrumbs. It was delicious without it, but I’m sure it’s good with them on, also. I might have to make this again – and this time use chicken and breadcrumbs. It might be a whole different thing!


This is so good, hot and bubbly, right out of the oven!


Hotdish is always good, but one that uses up already cooked chicken or ham – really good. One that can be made ahead of time – really, really good. This particular one – really, really, really good!



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Baked Chicken Salad Casserole

Today’s recipe is a delicious way to use leftover chicken. This is a classic grandma and her sisters recipe. It was obviously a newspaper clipping, and because those weren’t kept very often, so you know it has to be good. I have to say, this Baked Chicken Salad Casserole is one of the easiest, fastest dinners ever. It’s ridiculous! Like fast food – only even faster than that. There’s just not much to say about it.

Baked Chicken Salad Casserole

So easy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Baked Chicken Salad Casserole

Mix together and put in casserole dish:

2 cups cooked chicken, diced

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup celery, finely diced

1/2 cup walnuts or almonds (I used almonds)

3 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup mayonnaise

Cover with:

2 cups coarsely crushed potato chips

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.


I love any dish that can be mixed all together in one bowl.


Put it into a casserole dish and top with the potato chips, and you know that anything topped with potato chips has to be good!


It’s so fast – 15 minutes later – dinner!


This is such a classic hotdish (casserole) that so reminds me of grandma and her sisters and their Sunday evening family gatherings, that I’m not surprised the newspaper clipping was kept.


It comes out of the oven hot and bubbly and ready to go.


I love this one – fast and easy and delicious. It’s faster than fast food! Gather up your family and give this one a try! It’s GOOD!



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Chicken Casserole

The recipe for today comes from my 90-year-old mother-in-law. We went to visit her recently, and she allowed me to take her old church cookbook home to copy down her recipe for Christmas Date Balls. Fortunately for me, it also had this recipe for Chicken Casserole. You know how I feel about church cookbooks – they’re just the BEST. She has made this recipe for many years, and it’s actually taped in the cookbook. This casserole is something that she makes every time the family comes for a visit. It’s delicious and everyone loves it – especially our kids. Apparently (she told me), her daughters and other daughter-in-law have tried to make it themselves but alas, “it doesn’t taste the same as when you make it”. Isn’t that the way it always goes? It’s just never the same as when mom makes it – she just has her own special touch! It must be the added love that goes into it!

93 Alice's Cookbook

This is a very old and very well used cookbook!!! There are pages where her kids (and maybe grandkids and great-grandkids) have used it as a coloring book, written their names in it, and drawn pictures in it. Priceless!!!

Alice's Chicken Casserole

It’s a very simple recipe!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chicken Casserole

(I used a 9″ x 13″ pan for this.)

1 – Layer of boned cup-up chicken (I used about 2-3 cups of cut-up cooked chicken).

2 – Pour a can of cream of mushroom soup over this.

3 – Layer of grated cheese (I used 8 ounces of sharp cheddar).

4 – Layer of Pepperidge Farm dressing (I used a 14 ounce bag of Classic Stuffing), which has been mixed with 2 sticks melted margarine (I used butter).

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


Here are the first two layers, chicken and cream of mushroom soup. I think I could have used a bit more chicken.


Next up, the cheese layer. Then mix the dressing with melted butter and put that on for the last layer.


A subtle difference, but here it is before and after baking.


It comes out hot and delicious and crusty.


I think I used too large of a bag of dressing. Maybe the package size has changed since she started making this casserole.


This a great casserole for busy families. It’s fast and easy and wow – OMG – this is delicious. Period. But the girls are right. It didn’t taste as good as when she makes it!




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Hotdish #3

Here is one more in the long line of hotdish recipes in Grandma’s file. They’re numbered because there are so many of these delicious recipes that just say “hotdish”. Hotdish #3 is a very tasty hotdish for this time of year. There’s nothing better than coming indoors after raking your lawn or going for a walk to look at the beautiful colored leaves we’ve had this fall, only to have that warm, cozy smell coming from your oven. I think one reason that Grandma had so many hotdish recipes in her file, is that they’re easy to pull together, and easy to do ahead of time. You can make a hotdish in the morning or even the night before and then just put it in the oven before your family or guests arrive. Hotdishes are absolutely perfect for working families!


You could even use leftover stuffing from your Thanksgiving dinner for this one.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hotdish #3

Brown and drain:

1 pound ground beef

Mix with:

1 can cream of celery soup

Put in casserole dish.


1 1/2 cups cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded (you’ll need 3 cups total – I used cheddar)

1 package Stove Top Stuffing

Place on top:

1 cup broccoli, chopped (I used frozen)

Top with:

1 1/2 cup more cheddar cheese, shredded

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


Here are the many layers of this delicious hotdish – the ground beef and cream of celery soup, and the first layer of cheddar cheese.


Here are the stuffing and then the broccoli.


Top with the last layer of cheddar cheese and into the oven it goes.


Does this look good or what?! It is!!!


After the hotdish was in the oven, I wondered how the stuffing would cook – how would it moisten if there are only the broccoli and cheddar on top? It was a bit dry at first, but moistened the longer it sat. You could cook the stuffing before using it in this hotdish if you prefer.


This is another great hotdish – and you really can never have too many hotdish recipes in your arsenal. Make this hotdish ahead of time, go outdoors and do some yard work or something you can only do in the fall, and then come back in and get warm and cozy and enjoy this delicious hotdish. It’s a good one!


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Money-Saving Meal Mania 2

This is the end of our Money-Saving Meals series (this time around), but first we have to get through more Money-Saving Meal Mania!!! I hope you’ve gotten some ideas to help stretch YOUR food budget dollar, and remember, all cost breakdowns are approximate. Here are some more Money-Saving Meals that I’ve shared in previous posts:



Cost breakdown for this dish:

Tuna  .99

Velveeta  1.75

Eggs  .45

Green Pepper, Onion, Olives, Pickles  .40

Mayonnaise  .50

Hot Dog Buns  1.59

Total = $5.68


Hotdish #2

Cost breakdown for this dish:

Ground Beef  6.00

Onion  .10

Green Pepper  .99

Celery  .70

Cream of Mushroom Soup  1.39

Cream of Chicken Soup  1.39

Chow Mein Noodles  1.39

Total = $11.96


Potato Soup

Cost breakdown for this dish:

Potatoes  1.00

Onion  .05

Butter  .50

Milk  .25

Ring Sausage  3.50

Peas  1.20

Total = $6.50


5 Can Hotdish

Cost breakdown for this dish:

Tuna  .99

Cream of Mushroom Soup  1.39

Chow Mein Noodles  1.59

Milk  .25

Chicken Noodle Soup  1.19

Total = $5.41



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Money-Saving Meals Mania

I’m going crazy looking through all of the budget meals that I’ve posted in the past. Since we’re looking for Money-Saving Meals this week, today is nothing less than Money-Saving Mania!!!!! Grandma had so many ideas for cheap meals – and they are good for more than one meal – they’re great for leftovers! Here are some past posts that are great for stretching your food budget dollar. More to come next week!


Spanish Meatballs

Cost breakdown for this dish:

Ground Beef  3.99

Onion  .10

Velveeta  1.74

Saltines  .10

Egg  .10

Tomato Soup  1.19

Total = $7.22


Creamed Peas on Toast

Cost breakdown for this dish:

Bread  .75

Peas  .69

Milk  .25

Total = $1.69



Cost breakdown for this dish:

Celery  .50

Onion  .10

Ground Beef  5.89

Minute Rice  .50

Cream of Mushroom Soup  1.39

Total = $8.38


Easy Chicken and Rice

Cost breakdown for this dish:

Chicken  8.99

Lipton Onion Soup  1.50

Rice  .30

Cream of Mushroom Soup  1.39

Cream of Chicken Soup  1.39

Milk  .25

Total = $13.82


10 Minute Tomato Soup

Cost breakdown for this dish:

Crushed Tomatoes  1.29

Milk  .50

Total = $1.79





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Money-Saving Meals – Tuna Casserole

This one . . . is not my favorite. I’m not a fish girl. But we are trying to find meals that are budget conscious, and this is one of them. When we went on our trip to Sweden and Norway, as my sister said, I ate more fish than I had eaten TOTAL in my lifetime. It’s also all fresh right from the ocean right there. I grew up on a lake where we fished all the time, so it’s weird that I don’t like fish. I know, I know, everyone I know thinks that it’s weird, too. I don’t know what it is – I just can’t do it. I do remember Grandma and my mom both making Tuna Casserole when I was growing up, and the only way I could eat it was with crushed up potato chips on top. It sometimes still hits me wrong, and I just can’t do it. This is another one that I don’t have a recipe card for, and I’ve been making my whole life, so I’ll just type it out.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tuna Casserole

Cook a bag of egg noodles according to package directions.

Mix together with:

1 can of tuna (I like it in water), drained

1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 can of peas (I have graduated to using frozen peas now and I used a half of a 32 oz bag)

Put into casserole and top with crushed up potato chips (half a bag or so), if desired (of course leaving them off is more cost-effective).

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until chips are brown and even more crispy on top.


This has so few ingredients and is so simple.


Mix it up and into the casserole dish it goes.


Gotta top it with the chips!


Bake and it’s done! That’s it! Simple!


This is another one that is total comfort food – even if (for me) it’s just the aroma of it baking.


Cost breakdown for this dish:

Tuna  .99

Cream of Mushroom Soup  1.39

Peas (frozen)  1.20

Egg Noodles  2.19

Potato Chips  1.25

Total = $7.02





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Money-Saving Meals – Hamburger Hotdish

My daughters have been asking me to give them some ideas for saving money on their food budget, so for the next week or two I’m doing a new series called Money-Saving Meals. I have already posted a lot of dishes that could be considered money-saving, so we’ll go back and revisit some of those, too. Both of my grandmas were young married women during the Great Depression. They knew how to stretch their food budget dollar. My parents were married when they were 20 and I came along soon after.


My mom also had to stretch her food budget dollar. My husband and I were married when we were in our early 20’s. I know how to stretch my food budget dollar. My daughters are trying to get ahead in this post-2009 crash job market, and they are learning how to stretch THEIR food budget dollar. We could all use some ideas to help stretch our food budget dollar. I’ll try to include the cost of these dishes, but keep in mind that you can always keep the cost down when you watch for sales on the items used in them. I also won’t add the cost of staples you probably have around the house like ketchup, soy sauce, spices, salt and pepper, etc. We’re going to start with everybody’s favorite, Hamburger Hotdish. We have all used this one from time to time and it doesn’t hurt to just get this one written down. There isn’t a recipe card for this since I’ve been making this one since I was in about third grade.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hamburger Hotdish

Cook according to package instructions:

1 lb. package of macaroni


1 lb. ground beef, browned (I always cook 1 onion, chopped, at the same time as the ground beef)

1 can tomato soup (plus some extra ketchup, if desired)

1 can vegetable of your choice (I used frozen mixed vegetables – still pretty inexpensive)

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.


I use frozen vegetables instead of canned – I just like them better.


So colorful going into the oven!


This makes one big casserole.


Wow – does this smell like home – total comfort food.


Tried and true, you can’t go wrong with Hamburger Hotdish.


Cost breakdown for this dish:

Macaroni  .88

Hamburger  3.99

Onion  .13

Tomato Soup  1.19

Vegetables  .80




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