Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip

When did I start making these Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip? I don’t even know. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember. Actually, the kabobs were a staple at a lot of graduations, confirmations, and our wedding, but the dip came a few years later. Kabobs are an easy, easy thing to do (in keeping with my “Nothing But Easy Summer”), but they’re so ridiculously impressive. Kids love to help make these, and they also love to eat them. Oh come on, who are we kidding – everyone loves to make them, and everyone loves to eat them. They’re easy to do, and they’re a lot of fun to make, PLUS they’re delicious! I use the regular wooden skewers that you can buy at any grocery store, but if you’re going to serve them to kids, cut off the sharp end after you get the fruit on there so. We don’t want anyone getting poked by that sharp end.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fruit Kabobs

I used strawberries, green grapes, pineapple, and blackberries for these kabobs, but you can use any combination you want, as long as the fruit is firm enough to stay on the skewer. Just wash the fruit, cut it into cubes (if necessary, as with melon), and push them onto the skewers. You can lay them on a platter, like I did here when I served them for book club, or you could try a fun way to serve them that I’ve done in the past. I cut a whole pineapple or watermelon in half, lay it flat side down on a platter, and poke the skewers into it. Then each person can pull out and take the skewer they want. It looks like so pretty it’s very festive, and it’s a lot of fun!

Fruit Dip

1 large Cool Whip

12 ounces cream cheese

1 medium jar strawberry jam

Mix all together.

This is best if it sits overnight.

The recipe for this dip makes a BIG batch. It will last you awhile.

The possibilities are endless for the different fruit combinations you can make on the kabobs.

Fruit is always good. Kabobs are a pretty and more fun way to eat fruit. I love this idea! The dip adds a sweet treat component, which you can either use with the kabobs or just leave off. You can also dip the fruit without putting it on a skewer – it’s up to you how you like to do it. Trust me – these Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip are easy and impressive to bring to any gathering!



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Herbed Cheese Spread

Today I’m sharing a recipe I’m calling Herbed Cheese Spread. I have a lot of herbs growing just outside my kitchen door on our deck, and I like to try and come up with new ways to use them. We’ve had so much rain here in Minnesota this spring and now into summer, that I’ve hardly even had to water them, and now it’s hot! They’re growing like crazy! I think both of my grandmas would approve of the fact that I’m growing my own herbs and using them, preserving them (hopefully I can show how I do that later this fall – if there are any herbs left in my pots), and saving money while doing it!

This is my little lemon tree that I have struggled to get to this point. We don’t have any south facing windows in our house, so it’s hard to “baby” this little tree through the long, cold Minnesota winters, but I am DETERMINED to get lemons from this tree! It likes the sun and heat on the deck better than having to be in the house during our winters.

It gets lemons on it but they don’t last long before they fall off. I know I should look into fertilizing more, but it’s just one of those things. It actually looks pretty good right now – it must like the rain water! It’s blooming right now, and has some little lemons on it so . . . here’s hoping!

I decided to try and make this cheese to serve with crackers or slices of baguette. It’s another ridiculously easy to do and ridiculously delicious snack or appetizer that would be perfect with a nice glass of rose or white wine out on the deck. It’s easy to do as long as you have herbs around, whether you’re growing them yourself or have them leftover from a dish you’ve made. I’m really starting to enjoy this “Nothing But Easy Summer”!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Herbed Cheese Spread

Mix together:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon chives, chopped

2 chive blossoms, pulled apart (obviously, if you have them, but not necessary)

1 teaspoon basil, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 teaspoon oregano, chopped

1/2 teaspoon rosemary, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1-2 Tablespoons lemon zest

salt and pepper, to taste

1-2 cloves garlic, minced


1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice or more, enough to make it spreadable

These really are simple ingredients: Cream cheese, herbs, and lemon.

How pretty is this?!! I love that I have also found something else to do with my beautiful chive blossoms!

Mix it all together and that’s it! Done!

There is no easier appetizer or snack for guests or just for yourself!

I love this cheese spread! It uses the herbs from my pots and makes the most delicious appetizer EVER! It’s easy to do and amazingly delicious. You’re gonna love this and so will your friends! Open up a nice bottle of rose or white wine, call up some friends, and make up a batch of this Herbed Cheese Spread!




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Chive Blossom Vinegar and French Potato Salad

Today I’m sharing recipes for Chive Blossom Vinegar and French Potato Salad. I made this Chive Blossom Vinegar with the TON of chive blossoms that grew this spring on the HUGE chive plant in my garden. I’ve always known that you can use the blossoms for salads, but I knew there had to be something else I could do with them. They’re just so pretty! Funny story about chive blossoms – I put this tiny chive plant in my garden one year, and was so excited to be able to use both the chives and the chive blossoms, that I could hardly wait. My husband was going to be helpful one spring day, and weed the garden for me. I had been keeping an eye on the first of our chive blossoms, waiting with baited breath for them to finally open and we’d finally be able to use them as a pretty addition to our dinner salad, when Mr. Helpful Weeder picked them all off and threw them into the compost bag! He thought they were something that shouldn’t be on there, since they kind of look like a weird formation on the top of the chives (before they bloom they’re just a little ball on top of the chive green), and had decided (without asking me first) to just get rid of them! Believe me, he has NOT lived that one down, and never will. Every spring he asks everyone he knows if they know that you can use those blossoms on a salad. Ha. Lesson learned. If you don’t know – ask!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Since there really isn’t a recipe, so I’m just going to show you the photos and explain them as we go.

I planted a chive plant in my garden several years ago, and it has turned into a chive shrub. The plant is HUGE, but oh so pretty! I had to find something (besides putting them on a salad) to do with those beautiful blossoms. An online search turned up something easy to do (it is the Nothing But Easy Summer, after all) that is also absolutely delicious – Chive Blossom Vinegar!

Chive blossoms are so pretty, I may just show a bunch of photos of them – just because. Ok – better not. On to the how-to:

First I picked enough chive blossoms to fill a quart canning jar 2/3 of the way to the top. I gave them a rinse in a bowl of water to get rid of any little beasties that might be hiding in those glorious purple blossoms, and then I dried them on a towel.

Next I put the blossoms into a clean, dry jar with a lid. Some instructions I saw said to use a piece of parchment paper between the glass and the lid so the metal doesn’t touch the vinegar. I used a canning jar so the lid didn’t have metal on the top, and it seemed ok with no funny taste.

I used white vinegar to make this first batch, but I supposed any clear vinegar would work like champagne or white wine vinegar. Fill the jar almost to the top. Then let it sit in a cool, dark place anywhere from a few days to a week – it’s done when it tastes good to you. I had mine steeping for 2 weeks because we went on vacation.

The blossoms aren’t so pretty after they’ve been steeping in the vinegar for awhile. I used a spoon to remove the blossoms from the jar.

Next I put a coffee filter into a strainer and strained the vinegar into a large measuring cup (for easier pouring back into the jar later).

Look at how pretty pink the vinegar is after straining it! I washed out my original canning jar and poured the strained vinegar right back into it for storage.

What a perfect hostess gift! Put it into a pretty bottle and this beautiful pink chivy (and somewhat oniony) flavored vinegar is perfect to share. It would be great on a French Potato Salad, a vinaigrette, or over roasted vegetables.

I decided to try it on a French Potato Salad and see just how delicious this beautiful pink vinegar is.

For the French Potato Salad I boiled 6 small potatoes (cut in quarters), added about 1/4 cup of the vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and some of the chopped chives from my garden.

Um – yes. It made a simple, yet delicious potato salad that was absolutely amazing. Now I know what to do with the chive blossoms every spring (as long as I get to them before Mr. Helpful Weeder):

  1. Put them on salads.
  2. Make them into a delicious Herbed Cheese (recipe to come soon).
  3. Make Chive Blossom Vinegar – every year!

Chicken Sandwich Hawaiian

Today’s recipe for Chicken Sandwich Hawaiian comes from one of grandma’s old church cookbooks. When I read this recipe, I immediately thought of using it for nice little tea sandwiches that would be perfect for a nice afternoon tea on Mother’s Day. You all know how I feel about these old church cookbooks – they’re the best! Everyone puts in their favorite and/or best recipe from their years of making delicious food for their friends and family, and we all get to benefit from it! I could totally see the person who submitted this recipe had used it for just this purpose – afternoon tea. Not that you couldn’t also use a nice croissant and a bit of crunchy green lettuce to also use this as a nice lunch or for a picnic – that fits right in with my “Nothing But Easy Summer” because this recipe is absolutely nothing  but easy. A bigger sandwich and a picnic would also be nice for Mother’s Day, but I think mom would appreciate your brewing up a nice pot of her favorite tea, bringing out a tray of beautiful little tea treats (like Orange Sugar Cookies or Lemon Love Notes), and a nice plate of these delicious tea sandwiches.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chicken Sandwich Hawaiian


1 12-ounce can boned chicken (I used the biggest can of chicken, which was a 10-ounce can of white meat chicken)

1 cup celery, sliced

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1 9-ounce (or about 1 cup) crushed pineapple, well drained

1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/2 teaspoon salt

Chill thoroughly.

This recipe uses simple ingredients that you probably have in your cupboard and frig.

Easy to do – easy to mix up – easy to eat!

For tea sandwiches, spread the mixture between two slices of bread, cut off the crusts, and cut diagonally in half or quarters.

This recipe would also be great in a regular sandwich for lunch or a picnic – perfect!

Afternoon tea is such a special way to treat mom on her special day. You know she’ll love this. It’s not that hard to pull together and she’ll appreciate that you took the time to make is special for her. This sandwich spread is so delicious and is nothing but easy to do. Go ahead. Do it. Make the mom in your life some of this Chicken Sandwich Hawaiian!




Salad #9

Today’s recipe is another “salad” in the long line of salads in Grandma’s recipe file, so it’s now labeled Salad #9. There were so many gatherings and events that Grandma used these “salads” for, it’s no wonder there were so many different recipes. Grandma had 7 siblings and Grandpa had 5 siblings, and that makes for a lot of get-togethers, birthdays, baptisms, wedding, graduations, on and on and on! Then they got married and had 2 children of their own, plus all of their siblings got married and had more children – the family grew and there were a lot of nieces and nephews, and even MORE gatherings. That doesn’t even include the church and local events and activities that Grandma and Grandpa were involved in. On top of that, they LOVED to entertain, and had friends over quite often on the weekends. Then when their own 3 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren became involved in school, music, drama, and sports, they had even MORE events to attend. They loved their family, they loved their friends and community, and they loved to go to all the activities they could – and they went to a LOT. That’s why there are so many recipes used for these gatherings – you had to  bring food when you went to all of this! We’re the lucky recipients of these recipes now, and we’re going to try them all! This “salad” is, let’s face it, not what we think of as “salad”. It’s more like dessert – a dessert that would be perfect for a nice Valentine’s Day dinner!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #9

Thaw and drain:

1 pint frozen raspberries (I had frozen whole berries in my freezer, so that’s what I used)

Stir together until dissolved:

2 cups boiling water

2 small packages of raspberry JELLO

Stir in:

1 pint raspberry sherbet


the drained raspberries


I know that Grandma would have used berries that came frozen in a brick and you had to thaw and drain them before using. You certainly can buy frozen berries in a brick or bag if you want to, I just had some frozen raspberries in my freezer from last summer. I mean to drain them as they thawed, but there wasn’t really any moisture that came out of them.

I put the boiling water into my big 4 cup measure, and it was big enough to mix all of the salad ingredients in.

I estimated (I know, I know, you’re surprised that I’d do that, aren’t you?) the pint (or 2 cups) of raspberry sherbet and scooped it right into the JELLO mixture in the 4 cup measure.

Once the sherbet is all in there, it starts to melt immediately. It WILL all melt – just keep stirring until it does.

Instead of making one big salad in a pretty bowl, I made individual salads in stemless wine glasses. I put the raspberries right in the bottom of the glasses first, and then poured the JELLO/sherbet mixture right over top. So pretty!

Yes – I think this would make a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner dessert.

This pretty dessert is just so ridiculously easy to pull together, and when you’re trying to make all the other dishes for a gathering or dinner, why not make the dessert easy, am I right? Right! Easy is where it’s at! While you’re at it, why not make something that’s ridiculously easy AND ridiculously delicious? This is it. Make this Salad #9 for your next gathering, party, or Valentine’s Day dinner and you’ll make quite the impression.


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Frozen Peaches

My mom got this recipe for Frozen Peaches from someone she worked with years ago, and it works great! While I love the fact that you can keep some of those juicy, dripping, delicious golden orbs for use in the middle of the bleak Minnesota winter, it did prevent my sister and me from finishing off the entire crate of peaches my mom would get every August. When mom would can or freeze peaches, I always wished she would buy another crate just for us to eat. But one was the limit, and we’d have to eat as many as we could BEFORE she would start using them for canning or freezing. I can’t tell you how much I loved August so we could get those peaches. Maybe it was because I was a kid, but they always seemed REALLY big and REALLY good. They just don’t seem as good as they used to be. I guess the older we get, the more that’s the case with most things. Anyhoo, most of the peaches that I freeze will be used in smoothies or muffins, but you could use them in breads, desserts, cakes, or pies. This is a great way to preserve a little bit of summer sunshine without canning peaches.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Frozen Peaches


3 cups sugar


3 cups water

Heat until the sugar is dissolved.


1-6 ounce can of frozen orange juice concentrate (I used half of a 12-ounce orange juice concentrate – I couldn’t find orange juice concentrate in that small of a container at my store)

Set aside to cool.

Put prepared peaches in containers (or freezer zip top bags) and cover with juice.

Cover and freeze.

Oh how I love peach season!

Get the syrup ready before you start preparing your peaches so it can cool by the time you’re ready for it.

You can use the boiling water method (dunk peaches into boiling water for 10-20 seconds or so and then plunge directly into ice water) to peel the peaches, but mine were so ripe the peel came off without needing that. I think slicing the peaches works best for freezing.

Don’t forget to label and date what’s in your freezer bags! Don’t count on remembering what’s in that bag later on.

I use zip top bags instead of containers only because they lay flat and take up less room. I slice two peaches per bag, and that’s just enough for a couple of smoothies. If I need more for something, I just take out more bags of peaches. I have also just used orange juice to freeze peaches without the sugar and water – that also works pretty well. When you’re ready to use the peaches, thaw, drain off the juice (unless you want the sugar syrup in whatever you’re making), and use in whatever recipe you need them for. You’re going to love how easy it is to make and use these Frozen Peaches!





Three-Layer Chocolate Dessert

This recipe for Three-Layer Chocolate Dessert came from my mom (the chocoholic), who got it from someone she knew, who got it from one of those old church cookbooks from the look of it. There’s nothing better than those old cookbooks. If you follow this blog at all, you know how I feel about those old church cookbooks. They’re just the best, and I love them. August always seems to be hot and humid here in Minnesota, so what better to cool us off than a frozen dessert? And it’s not even ice cream!

Technically, this is a four-layer dessert – they left off the fact that you add an extra layer of Cool Whip on top of everything!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Three-Layer Chocolate Dessert

First Layer:

Mix like pastry:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used toasted, sliced almonds)

Press in 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.


Second Layer:

Beat well:

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

Fold in:

8 ounce container Cool Whip

Spread on the baked and cooled crust.

Third Layer:

Mix together:

2 packages instant chocolate pudding

1 3/4 cup milk

Spread over second layer.

Top with:

8 ounces Cool Whip

Sprinkle with:

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used toasted, sliced almonds for this also)


The first layer is the only time you have to turn on your oven for this one.

The second layer goes on pretty easily.

The third layer was thin, but if the second layer shows through, who’s gonna know?

This freezes pretty hard, and my daughter suggested running the knife under warm water first. Genius.

This is technically a four-layer dessert, so don’t forget to buy two 8 ounce containers of Cool Whip (or one 16 ounce size) for this one. Trust me, if you have to wait a day to get the second one, it’s going to turn out ok. Not that I know anything about that. Maybe. I was also thinking that this might be good with chopped Snickers or Heath bars on the top instead of chopped nuts. Hmm. I might have to try this again. Make this Three-Layer Chocolate Dessert and help your friends and family stay cool for the rest of the summer – not that this dessert will last that long!



Dessert #6

Today’s recipe for Dessert #6 (there seems to be a LOT of dessert recipes in Grandma’s file – at least 6 just simple named “dessert”!) comes from Grandma’s youngest sister who got it from her daughter-in-law’s mother. I love that. That’s how these great recipes just keep getting passed around – because they’re GREAT! Actually, I have three different copies of this recipe: this one that’s Grandma’s, one that’s from another sister (who was exactly 2 years older than her), and one that’s from the above mentioned youngest sister. I guess they all liked it! The sisters definitely shared those recipes that were “V Good”, and that’s what this one is – V Good!

Note the “V Good” connotation again on this one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Dessert #6

Mix together:

80 Ritz Crackers, crushed

1/2 cup melted margarine or butter (I used butter)

Save 3/4 cup for topping.

Put rest in bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan.

Mix together:

2 packages Butter Pecan Instant Pudding (I couldn’t find this – maybe they don’t make it anymore –  and Grandma’s recipe was the only one with this ingredient – I just used Vanilla Instant Pudding (that’s what the other 2 recipes called for) and added 1/4 cup toasted pecans)

2 1/2 cups milk

Stir in:

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

Pour on top of crust.

At this point I put the pan into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to let the pudding/ice cream mixture firm up a bit.

Top with:

1-8 ounce container of Cool Whip

Reserved 3/4 cup Ritz Cracker mixture

Nuts or cherries can be added (I don’t know if she means in the pudding/ice cream mixture or on top).

I like how this recipe says the exact number of crackers to crush. Sometimes it’s hard to know how much of things to use when they keep changing the size of products so often.

It’s a simple crust – crackers and melted butter. Don’t forget to keep out the 3/4 cup for the topping!

Soften the ice cream and it will be easier to stir it into the pudding. I used a whisk at first, but then changed to a spatula once the ice cream started to melt in. It might be interesting to play around with different pudding flavors in this!

I had a few lumps of ice cream that just wouldn’t stir smooth, but in the end it didn’t seem to make much difference. It was smooth once it was chilled.

It was easier to spread the Cool Whip over the top after making dollops with a spoon and then spreading it. Be gentle – the pudding layer isn’t totally firmed up yet. Sprinkle the crumbs on top!

The recipe says you can add nuts and cherries, so I added a strawberry. That makes it a healthy dessert, right? This dessert is delicious just the way it is, and if you like it of a more soft consistency, serve it right away. I made this during a very hot week, and I put it into the freezer – it was nice and firm and nice and cold! It’s a great dessert to keep in your freezer for unexpected guests! If Grandma and her sisters say it’s “V Good” – it’s “V Good” – and you’ll love this Dessert #6, too!




Seven Layer Dip

I found this recipe for Seven Layer Dip in one of Grandma’s church cookbooks, and guess who had submitted it? My mom! I kind of think she originally got this recipe from me, but oh well, it’s a good one none the less! This is another one of those that we have for a light lunch or dinner sometimes when the weather is tooooo warm and we don’t feel much like starting the oven or the grill. Seven Layer Dip is similar to The Easiest Nachos Ever and goes perfectly with Julie’s Margaritas! Seriously, I could eat this whole batch of dip by myself. Not even kidding.

Wow – I love this stuff.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Seven Layer Dip

In a flat dish spread evenly:

1 can of Mexican bean dip or refried beans (I usually use refried beans)


1 cup sour cream

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning

Spread on top of beans.

Layer in order given:

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

1/2 cup green olives, sliced

5 green onions, chopped (you can also add sliced jalapeno if you want to spice it up)

1 large tomato, chopped or 1 cup salsa

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Can make ahead and keep in refrigerator overnight.

Serve with tortilla chips.

I used a deep dish pie plate for this, but you could use a quiche plate or even a small cake pan if you need to. Sometimes I use the taco seasoning, sometimes I leave the sour cream plain. Just depends on how I’m feeling that day.

Full disclosure – I don’t really measure anything when making this dip. I know that will come as a shock to my family (no it won’t). I use the can of refried beans and then about a cup of sour cream, but after that all bets are off. I just put in what I know my family likes. I usually don’t use green olives because my family goes crazy for black olives. I only used two green onions in here because instead of a tomato, I usually use salsa and it has some more onion in it and some in our family don’t especially care for onions. They boys in the family like more spice, so sometimes we add jalapeno or hot salsa. You see how this goes.

This dip is so pretty and so great for a hot summer day.

Don’t forget Julie’s Margaritas! Perfect!

You will absolutely love this dip. There is ample opportunity for more margaritas than normal – salty olives, salty chips, salted rim on the margaritas. Heaven. Make a batch of this Seven Layer Dip today – better yet make 2 – you’re gonna need 2!


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Tapioca Salad or Dessert

The recipe for Tapioca Salad or Dessert is another incredibly easy and incredibly good one from Grandma’s files. This one definitely fits Grandma’s theme of very easy and very good. We’re heading into that time of year where there are innumerable graduation parties, bridal showers, family reunions, and picnics and I don’t know about you, but I really do get tired of bringing the same old dish all the time. Here’s a new one, that’s so fast and so tasty, nobody will believe you didn’t spend a lot of time on it. It’s just that good, and even better – you can keep everything needed to make it in your cupboard or pantry and be ready to make this at a moments notice. You will always be ready for anything with this one in your back pocket.

Note the “V. Good” connotation again on this one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #8

Drain juice from:

1 can of mandarin oranges (I used a small one)

1 can of pineapple (I used tidbits in juice)

Add enuf (ha! I LOVE that!) water to make 3 cups of liquid.

Cook fruit juice/water mixture with:

1 package of tapioca pudding

1 package of orange tapioca pudding (I didn’t find this at my store so I just used 2 packages of regular tapioca pudding)

Cook until boiling.

(I let the pudding cool a bit at this point before adding it to the fruit.)

Add fruits and let stand overnight or serve (I found that it thickened up a bit as it sat overnight).

I drain the juice from the can of fruit by putting the strainer right over the top of my big measuring cup.

When you’ve drained the juice from both cans, just add water to make 3 cups.

This was supposed to have 3 bananas in it, but when I was ready to make the salad, the bananas weren’t ready to go yet – they were still very green. I just left them out (since I’m not a huge fan of bananas in salad).

After cooking the pudding, I poured it into a bowl to cool down quicker instead of leaving it in the hot pan.

After mixing the pudding and fruit, it seemed a bit loose, so I did what Grandma told me to do – add mini marshmallows. It seems weird, but it works. And I know this because I’ve used this trick many times. I don’t know if in this case it was because I left out the bananas, but I added about a half bag of miniature marshmallows.

Oooh – it looks so pretty in the glass bowl my mom got while in the hospital when I was born. Apparently it held fruit – how appropriate. It’s amazing the bowl is still in one piece! This recipe is V. Good, according to Grandma, and she’s never wrong. It’s a delicious salad (or dessert) that’s perfect for any springtime or summer occasion. The ingredients are easy to have in the cupboard and ready to use to make this salad. Make a batch of this Tapioca Salad or Dessert and be ready for anything!



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