Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Salad #6

I love these family photos from years ago, and this one is of Grandma and Grandpa (on the right) and one of Grandma’s sisters with her husband, and maybe a cousin of theirs. Family was very important to Grandma and her brothers and sisters. They would get together a lot on Sundays, and I can imagine the chatting, the teasing, and the eating that went on at those get-togethers. I don’t have to imagine too hard – I was there at some of them when I was growing up!

Here is another in a long line of salads just called “Salad”. This one is Salad #6. There is a ridiculous number of salads in Grandma’s recipe file, and I’m sure that’s because of all of the family dinners and gatherings she was a part of over the years. She needed to have a huge arsenal of  recipes that she could mix and match depending on what and who the gathering was for. This one is especially easy to do and is especially good. It will be great on your springtime table.

This salad is really good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #6


2 1/2 cups water


1 (3 oz.) package of Strawberry Jello

2 boxes Tapioca Pudding


Fold in:

1 (12 oz.) Cool Whip

1 package frozen strawberries (partially thawed)

Let the first mixture cool completely so it doesn’t melt the Cool Whip.

It takes awhile to fold in all of the Cool Whip, but you’ll get there eventually.

I used the frozen strawberries that I had in the freezer from a local farm.

This recipe makes a nice big salad – it more than filled this bowl.

There was enough extra salad left (that didn’t fit in the bowl) for dessert that night after dinner, and the main salad was taken to my mom’s for her birthday dinner. This was one of those family dinners, just like Grandma and her family used to have. The consensus from the family on this salad – 6 thumbs up.  It’s so delicious, and really convenient. You can have all of the ingredients in your cupboard and freezer ready for anytime. I hope you’ll try this really quick, really easy, and really delicious Salad #6.





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Poppy Seed Buns

One thing I don’t have photos of, from the days of staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, is the game playing. I really regret that because my sister and I played a LOT of games with them: Rook, Rack-O, Chinese Checkers, Old Maid, Rummikub, Checkers, Sorry, and card games. Sometimes we would play all night. Of course, we never wanted to stop when it was time for bed. It was a lot of fun, and Grandma especially, was very competitive. They never let us win – we had to win fair and square. There was none of this “everybody wins” type of Candyland. They also loved to play games with their great-grandchildren – board games and card games. One card game they always played with our kids when they were little, was Old Maid. We still have the cards, and they’re very well used, as you can see!


There was one particular game of Old Maid that was played with my oldest daughter when she was about 4 years old. She and Grandma were the only two left holding cards. It was the end of the game and it was my daughter’s turn to draw a card from Grandma. She had only one card in her hand, and Grandma had two cards left in her hand: one was the Old Maid and one was the card to match my daughter’s card. Grandma put the Old Maid card up higher in her hand than the other card, thinking my daughter would pick that one and get the Old Maid. Well, my equally (and probably even more so) competitive daughter picked the lower card, got a pair because of it and won the game, leaving Grandma holding the Old Maid!!! Oh my gosh – first there was the look on Grandma’s face, then there was the screeching and howling of laughter from everyone when we realized what had happened, then there was the immense pride from Grandma about what her 4-year-old great-granddaughter had just pulled off. She told everyone she knew about that game for years. What a great memory – we’ll never forget it!!!

While we did have snacks when playing games, and the recipe for today would be a good snack for game night, I think it will also be a good addition to your Super Bowl party. You see different versions of this recipe all over the internet these days, and who am I to let a trend go untried? This recipe for Poppy Seed Buns comes from my mom, and I think she got it from someone she worked with, so they were ahead of the trend because she retired almost 25 years ago! I have never had these before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. You’ll want to try these!


These buns are incredibly tasty and very easy to make.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Poppy Seed Buns

Slice and put in bottom of a cake pan:

24 dinner roll bottoms (I used King’s Hawaiian rolls, but they seemed a little softer than regular dinner rolls would be – I’d stick with regular dinner rolls next time – or maybe try a batch of Buns or 6 Hour Buns and just make the buns smaller)


thinly sliced ham

slices of Swiss cheese

Put tops of dinner rolls on.

Microwave until melted:

1 cup butter

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons yellow mustard

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoons poppy seeds (I only used 1 Tablespoon for this batch and that seemed like enough)

Stir sauce and drizzle over rolls.

Put into refrigerator until time to serve.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

There is a note on the card that says these can be made the night before – love that!


Slice the rolls, put the bottoms in the bottom of the pan, and put on the ham and Swiss.


I used deli ham and cut each piece in half.


On go the tops and on to the sauce . . .


. . . which is so darn tasty!


Drizzle on the sauce and into the frig.


I love it – another make ahead beauty!


Get trendy with me – these will be great at your next game night or Super Bowl gathering!


I used a sweet dinner roll for these and I think a regular dinner roll would have worked better, although both my husband and my son thought I was crazy. They liked the sweet rolls and told me to just leave it at that. I just want everyone to know – there ARE options. That being said, these are ridiculously delicious. That sweet and tangy sauce on top of a ham and cheese sandwich – so good! You can eat them with a fork, but your fingers work just as well. BTW – you WILL be licking every bit of that sauce off of your fingers!







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Spam Cracker Spread

I said we’d do ALL the recipes in Grandma’s file, and so we shall – today I present – Spam Cracker Spread! This one comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and this definitely goes under the category of Retro Oddities. This one is really going “old-school”! I haven’t had Spam in over 35 years – it was never my favorite, but one way that I did like it was fried. It’s made of pork and ham, and when it’s fried, it tastes like fried ham. Yum. My husband said, “I don’t mind Spam.” Because the Spam is NOT fried in this recipe, I made this specifically for him to try. This might be something for you to serve at your Super Bowl party this weekend! We’ll give it a whirl. Here goes nothing . . .


This turned out to be really tasty and really rich!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spam Cracker Spread

Mix together and chill for 1 hour:

1 can Spam, ground (I used a food processor for this)

1 Tablespoon sour cream

2 Tablespoons onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon salad dressing


4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon horseradish (optional)

2-3 Tablespoons sour cream

1-2 Tablespoons salad dressing

Spread over Spam mixture.

Garnish with sliced green olives.


Here it is – in all its glory!


Because I don’t have a grinder or anything that seemed like it would grind the Spam, I used my food processor. I cut it into chunks so it would break up easier. It did make it a bit smoother than grinding would – what you use depends on what  your texture preference is.


Once you mix the first ingredients, you’re halfway there!


Put that first mixture into whatever you’d like to serve the spread in, and into the refrigerator for an hour.


Mix the second half of the ingredients and get the olives sliced.


Put on the second layer and sprinkle on the olives. Done.


This recipe was really quick and easy.


I have to say – this spread is really tasty. It’s also really rich – I don’t think you’d like to eat a LOT of it. That’s why it’s great for a party. It’s another quick and easy one that can be made with ingredients that you probably have (or could have) in your frig and cupboard. I’d say this is an unusual and tasty snack, from back in the day, to serve at your next party – Super Bowl party, cocktail party, birthday party.


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Pork Chops with Rice

The recipe for today is another one that I’ve been making since I was in junior high school. My mom made this years ago and it wasn’t long before I was making it for the family for dinner. Pork Chops with Rice is one of my family’s favorite meals. In fact, my oldest daughter requests this most years for her birthday dinner. It’s total comfort food for us!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pork Chops with Rice

Mix together:

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (I have also used Golden Mushroom Soup)

1 can (1 cup) milk

2 (3/4 cup) servings instant rice (I used instant brown rice here)

Put in 9″ x 13″ baking pan.


1 package pork chops (I used boneless pork chops here)

Lay pork chops on top of rice mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.


I used boneless pork chops for this dish, but you can use regular bone-in chops, too.


It doesn’t look like much, but it is so good!


Just lay in the chops and into the oven.


Once it’s baked, the rice is saucy and the chops are tender – oh my!


All you need is the obligatory green vegetable and you’re all set. You can also make this the night before, so you’re all ready for dinner the next night. Give this one a try – it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s absolutely delicious!





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Christmas Cookies

Christmas can be traumatic for kids, as you can see by the photo I’m sharing today. This is when I was 3 years old, and Santa made an appearance at the house. I always felt that way about Santa – scared to death!


I’m not sure why, but that’s just how I always felt. That is sheer terror on my face! My mom doesn’t seem to be terrified. In fact, she seems to be enjoying MY terror! Ha! The really funny this was that Santa was actually my Grandpa in a Santa costume. If I had only known!

I found this recipe in Grandma’s file – it’s another clipping, maybe not from a newspaper, but from some publication. She’s written some notes on it, so I thought we’d give it a try. The actual name of these cookies is cut off, but she gives instructions for what she did to make them Christmas cookies, so that’s what we’re going to call them – Christmas Cookies. This recipe is another one that can be made a couple of months ahead and kept in the freezer for whenever you need them. I could see making a batch of these in about October and having them all ready in the freezer. As long as you’re mixing up cookie dough, you might as well mix up a batch of these for next month. They aren’t just for Christmastime, but for anytime you need a quick treat. Note the “Real Good” connotation on this one!


From the phrase at the top of the recipe, it sounds like these maybe delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Christmas Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup shortening (I used butter)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt


2 cups oatmeal

With your hands, mix in:

1 cup coconut

1 cup walnuts, chopped

(For Christmas cookies add – 1 cup red and/or green maraschino cherries, chopped)

Chill slightly (I chilled the dough about 10 minutes) and roll into 2 logs about 2 inches in diameter.

Wrap tightly and freeze.

To bake:

Slice in 1/4 inch slices and bake on ungreased baking sheets at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.


I split the dough in half to make the two logs.


I used parchment to wrap the logs, labeled them, and into the freezer they go! I love these recipes that you can make ahead and have ready whenever you need them.


The recipe suggests using an electric knife to slice the frozen dough, but I used my serrated bread knife and it worked just fine.


The logs sliced right through, even though they were frozen solid.


Put the frozen slices right onto a baking sheet and bake. Easy peasy.


The cookies come out crispy and delicious.


There’s nothing better than cookies and milk. Nothing.


Grandma’s note says that these cookies are “Real Good” – she was right! The cookies are delicious and festive – just what you need in a Christmas cookie. I’m keeping one of the logs for sometime in January when we’re ready for sweets again. Make a batch to use when last-minute guests come, or just in case you run out of cookies over the holidays. We can’t have that. 10-12 minutes and you’re golden – and the cookies will be, too!



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Egg Casserole

Christmastime is the time for family get-togethers. My mom tells about all her cousins and aunts and uncles staying overnight at her grandparents farm at Christmastime, and that was a LOT of people – there were 8 siblings in Grandma’s family and then there would have been spouses and kids. This photo was of 3 generations (an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, Grandma and Grandpa, and my mom and her brother) in front of the Christmas tree in 1950, when my mom was 10 years old – she’s the one in the checked dress.


They look like they’re all ready for church. I love their hats!

A breakfast dish like the one I’m sharing today would have been great for them with a lot of people staying overnight for the holiday. Because this is the time of year for family, family, family, and sometimes family stays overnight, that means you need a very quick and very easy dish for breakfast or brunch in the morning. A delicious Egg Casserole is the perfect dish for your overnight company. This is so easy and so good, and that’s what you want when there’s so much to do! How many times have I said that when making these recipes? Grandma sure knew what she was doing – make it easy and make it good!


This is another great recipe that you can make the night before!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Egg Casserole

Butter a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Put in bottom of pan:

3 cups seasoned bread croutons

2 cups cheese, shredded (I used cheddar)

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup onion, diced

Beat together:

10 eggs

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 cups milk

1 stick margarine (I used butter), melted

salt and pepper

Pour over bread and cheese.

Refrigerate overnight.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour (I forgot to make this the night before I needed it, so I made it 3 hours before baking it was great).


This has all the ingredients that make an egg bake so darn good.


Bread, cheese, bacon, eggs – how bad can that be?


The melted butter does solidify once you put it into the eggs, so it looks a little weird before it goes into the oven.


Add a piece of fruit and you have the perfect breakfast/brunch dish.


Oh man, this is so good! This egg dish is just what you need for the hoards of overnight holiday company that inevitably show up this time of year. It’s so easy,  you could even make more than one! It’s so delicious – your guests may never leave!




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Cranberry Salad #2

Today I’m sharing another one of those strange salads made with Jello and cottage cheese. I have to say, this one is not one of my favorites. Naturally it goes under the “retro oddity” heading, because I’m sure it’s from the 60s or 70s. I really don’t know what the deal was with the cottage cheese and jello. I had some issues with this recipe, and I’ll discuss them as we go along. This Cranberry Salad #2 is a recipe that could be either a Thanksgiving salad or a Christmas salad. When I had all of the ingredients out and was getting ready to make the salad, it smelled so much like the holidays with the raspberry, cranberry, and orange – it got me in the holiday spirit. But just for a minute – we’ve had temperatures up to 20 degrees above normal here in Minnesota this month, and it’s been hard to get in the mood for Thanksgiving when it’s warm enough to sit outside on the deck. 2 years ago we had snow and sun dogs showing up by this time in the month. Oh well, we’ll take the warm weather as long as we can get it!



This is a very pretty salad!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cranberry Salad #2

Dissolve according to package instructions:

1 package of raspberry jello

1 1/2 cups boiling water (Here’s where I think there is a problem. I did use 1 1/2 cups of boiling water for this, but finishing it according to the package takes another 1 cup of cold water. The salad ended up a bit soft and I think I’d cut back to 1 cup boiling water and 1 cup of cold water – the usual way – to make the jello.)

Chill until mixture begins to gel (this took about 45 minutes for me).

Fold into jello:

1 lb can of jellied cranberry sauce (crushed) or whole cranberry sauce (drained) (I used the whole cranberry sauce which now comes in a 14 oz can – I did drain  it a bit, but there wasn’t a lot of juice from it.)

1 orange, quartered and put through a food chopper – rind and pulp (I don’t have a food chopper so I used the food processor, which seemed to add even more liquid from the juice)

Pour into square or oblong pan (I used a 9″ x 13″ pan)

Chill until firm.

Cut salad into 3″ squares.

Place squares into lettuce cups.

Spread with:

1/2 pint cottage cheese

Top with another layer of salad to make a “salad sandwich”.

Serve with desired dressing (I didn’t add this).


This salad really doesn’t have many ingredients, and overall it’s really a very quick and easy recipe.


While the jello was setting, I broke up the whole cranberry sauce and put the orange into the food processor.


It is colorful once the lettuce cups are added.


I made the executive decision to just top the salad with a spoonful of cottage cheese instead of topping with another square of salad. Especially after what happened next.


This is what happened when adding the second layer of salad. The salad was so soft, it sort of fell apart. I think that’s why I would just make the jello the regular way instead of adding an extra cup of boiling water. Maybe using a food chopper for doing the orange would have also made the orange less juicy than using the food processor. The salad was delicious and very pretty with the red salad and the green lettuce, but my family decided that it would have been better without the cottage cheese. I think it would have been just as good to make the salad in a pretty bowl and serve it with a spoon. The salad was good, we just didn’t appreciate the “retro oddity” component of adding the cottage cheese. Give it a try and let me know what you think!



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Vegetable Salad #2

The recipe for today comes from a family friend and I’ve been making it since the 1970’s. This friend’s husband was my dad’s best friend, and we were together with them quite often. Here is my dad’s graduation photo.  I know those boys were best friends since this time, or even earlier than this. I know they were in the same confirmation class at their church, so they may have been best friends since they were 8th grade or so. There are stories galore about how much trouble these guys were. I’m not allowed to elaborate on that, but trust me – there are stories. So many stories.


How handsome is this guy? I’ll refrain from any comments about how much he looks like James Dean.

We would go to these friends’ house for dinner on weekends or they would come to our house. The “girls” (they were girls at that time – probably in their 20’s, even though they were moms) would sit at the kitchen table and talk and the “boys” would be down in the basement or in the garage talking and preparing for the next hunting season. In the early years, I was the only kid around and I would bring books or coloring books to work on while we were at their house, or I’d hang around and listen to the ladies talk or hang around the men and help refill shotgun shells or something. Eventually my little sister came along, these friends became her godparents, and then they had 4 kids of their own. The first time I remember having this Vegetable Salad #2 was at one of our famous 4th of July celebrations (when you live on a lake, your house is where everyone goes for the 4th of July), but we had this salad quite often over the years. I love this salad so much. It’s tasty and can be conveniently done ahead of time.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Vegetable Salad #2

Mix together in a large bowl:

1 head of cauliflower, broken up into florets

1/2 of a small head of red cabbage, shredded or chopped

1/2 of a red onion, chopped

1/2 pound bacon, fried and crumbled


2 cups salad dressing (I used mayonnaise)

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix dressing into vegetables.

Let stand 4 hours or overnight.


It’s time to sharpen those shredding and knife skills. I shredded the cabbage for this salad, but I do remember having it with chopped cabbage.


There is a lot of chopping, shredding, and floret separating to do, but it really does go fast.


Mix up the vegetables and mix up the dressing.


Put it all together and that’s it!


This is one of my all time favorite salads. I just love the flavors in this one – onion and bacon – how can you go wrong with that? Delish.



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Great Grape Salad

The recipe for today is very fancy – fancy enough for a very special occasion. Fancy enough for the fancy occasion depicted in this photo. The lovely woman second from the left is my great-great grandmother. I’m not sure what occasion they’re celebrating here, but it sure looks fancy to me!


Ya gotta love those hats! Yes – those are indeed very fancy.

This fancy recipe comes from my sister. She makes this Great Grape Salad a lot and people just love it. In my opinion, this is another one that should really be categorized as a “dessert salad”. It’s very decadent, and perfect for a special occasion. This salad would be right up Grandma’s alley since she has had a lot of salads in her recipes that I would consider a “dessert salad”.


This makes a very large and very fancy salad.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Great Grape Salad

Wash and pat dry:

2 pounds red seedless grapes

2 pounds white (or green) seedless grapes


8 ounces cream cheese

8 ounces sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix until light and creamy.

Add grapes and mix well.

In a small bowl, combine:

1 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup light brown sugar

Top the grape mixture with the brown sugar and pecans.

Cover and chill at least 6 hours before serving.


You start out with 4 pounds of beautiful grapes. If I had known how much salad this made, I would have made a half batch.


It looks a bit strange when all mixed up.


I didn’t think all of the brown sugar and pecans would actually fit on top, but somehow I made it fit.


Since we were being fancy, I used my prettiest bowl for this, forgetting that the bowl is heavy and then I put 4 pounds of grapes in it! I could hardly lift it!!!


This is a delicious, decadent, unusual salad that’s fit for the most special occasion. Get yourself some fancy duds and call some people over and have them wear THEIR fancy duds. Have a party – a fancy party – and serve this very fancy “dessert salad”.



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Tomato Feta Salad

I have to share this recipe for Tomato Feta Salad that I originally borrowed from Ina Garten years ago. Her recipes are so simple and so delicious – I just love her. Period. I love her tv show, I love her cookbooks, and I love her philosophy of keeping things simple so you can have fun at your parties, too. I have changed this recipe just a little bit, but it’s basically still Ina’s recipe. We usually have great luck (250-350 tomatoes – and yes, we do keep a tally!) with a cherry tomato plant in a pot in our backyard, but this year our plant was hit with frost, hail, and wind last spring. It’s not as prolific as usual, but our tiny yellow pear tomatoes are!! I thought I had planted 2 red heirloom tomato plants in our garden with a yellow heirloom in between. Well, it was yellow, but it doesn’t have big tomatoes – they’re the tiny kind – the size of a cherry tomato! That plant is going gangbusters (263 so far and showing no signs of slowing down), so I decided to make this salad using some of the red and some of the yellow little tomatoes. I don’t have a party to bring this to, but we did have it for dinner. This makes a large salad and it was just for us, I halved the recipe when I made it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tomato Feta Salad

Put into large bowl:

3 pints (6 cups) cherry tomatoes, cut in half

3/4 pound feta cheese, diced (I used crumbles)

1 small red onion, chopped


3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves, minced

Toss carefully.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Just look at these beautiful little jewels from my garden. The yellow tomatoes are a bit milder and not quite as tomato-y as the red ones.


I just had to take a photo of each kind of tomato – they’re just so pretty!


This salad is so easy to make and is easy to take anywhere.


It’s such a beautiful salad.


You’re going to love this tasty salad, and so will your family or guests. It’s delicious, it’s healthy, and it’s gorgeous. Give this one a try. Trust Ina. And me.




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