Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Pigs in a Blanket

Look at how old this recipe is for Pigs in a Blanket! Remember making these back in the day? My sister wrote this out when she was pretty young! I think she and I must have both gotten this recipe in 7th grade Home Ec class! There were a LOT of great recipes that came from that Home Ec class, and this is definitely one of them. That’s why this one’s going in the Retro Oddities category! I’ve been making this recipe for my kids since they were very small. It’s an inexpensive dinner that looks like you’ve really made something special – and my kids loved it – especially the name! This is another recipe that’s total comfort food for this family, and with shorter days and less daylight coming now this time of year, it’s time to pull out some of our favorite comfort food recipes, warm up the oven, and make some cozy, comfy dinners.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pigs in a Blanket


1 roll of refrigerator crescent rolls

Separate into triangles.

Remove from package:

1 package of hot dogs (I used my husband’s favorite kind, but we normally use Oscar Meyer Wieners)

Cut slit almost to bottom and not quite to the end of hot dog.

For cheese:

Velveeta cheese cut into 1/4″ slices, and cut those into 1/4″ strips.

Insert cheese into slit in hot dogs.

Wrap hot dog in crescent rolls, starting with the wide edge of roll under hot dog.

Roll up and pinch point end under hot dog to seal.

Place on baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes.

Because I didn’t use the usual Oscar Meyer Wieners, I put the hot dogs on a paper towel to dry them off a bit – these were juicy, but they’re my husband’s favorite.

Unroll the tube of crescent rolls, separate them, and have them ready for rolling.

This is it – 3 basic ingredients – all ready to go.

Cut a slit in the hot dog and insert the stick of cheese.

Roll the crescent roll dough around the hot dog. I found that starting with the wide end on the bottom let you end up with the pointed end underneath so it doesn’t come apart when baking – it stays nice and tight that way.

Tuck the pointed end of the crescent roll dough underneath and it stays put. Easy peasy.

Here they are – ready for the oven!

The hot dogs cook, the cheese melts, and the crescent roll dough gets brown and delicious.

These make a nice weekend lunch or quick weeknight dinner. Serve them with ketchup AND mustard, and you’re good to go.

Oh yum. I haven’t made these for a few years, and I had forgotten just how tasty they are! Your kids and grandkids will love them, and they’ll love helping you make them. It’s time to bring back these tasty favorites. Turn on the oven, get retro, and make up a nice, cozy, comfy dinner tonight with your new favorite comfort food – Pigs in a Blanket!



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Tiny Meatballs

This recipe for Tiny Meatballs comes from the early 1980’s. I got this from one of my sisters-in-law when I first started dating my now husband. It uses the funny “classic ingredients” of grape jelly and chili sauce. This was another recipe that I had lost, but when looking through my mom’s recipes, she still had it. This is an oldie but a goodie (totally going under the “Retro Oddities” category), and is perfect for your New Year’s Eve party. How much easier can we make it? You just put the meatballs into the sauce in a slow cooker! Yes! At this time of year, we’re tired of making holiday treats and just want something EASY to do. It can’t hurt if it’s ridiculously delicious at the same time!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tiny Meatballs


2 pounds extra lean ground beef

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 teaspoon salt

Shape in tiny balls, about the size of a walnut (or even smaller).

Combine in a skillet:

1-18 ounce jar grape jelly

1-12 ounce jar chili sauce

2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Heat until smooth.

Add meatballs and simmer 1 hour.

The sauce is just 3 simple ingredients: grape jelly, chili sauce, and lemon juice. I put the ingredients right into my cast iron pan. I didn’t try these in the slow cooker, but if you’re going to do that, maybe do it in the morning for an evening party. It’s so easy to do, it might be just as easy to make them in a skillet and then just keep them warm in a slow cooker.

Meatballs are simple, too, just beef, egg, salt, and onion.

When making small meatballs, you need the onion to be chopped small. I could have chopped the onion smaller. Of course, as usual, I also made the balls bigger than they should have been. I got 34 balls and the card says that it makes between 50-60. I guess make them half this size?

The smell of these meatballs cooking? Oh. Em. Gee. Whoa. Amazing.

Delish. These meatballs are a great addition to your hors d’oeuvre or appetizer repertoire. See how I used the fancy pants French words there? I had to ask my daughter (who has some high school French) how to spell those. These were made ahead of time and then I put them into the freezer to have later – that’s when I put them in a slow-cooker to warm up. It worked perfectly. This recipe is so retro and so easy and so good. You really should try a batch of these Tiny Meatballs for your New Year’s Party or maybe even your Super Bowl party – and don’t forget the toothpicks!


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Tomato Soup Cake

This recipe for Tomato Soup Cake comes from another one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks, and definitely goes under the heading of Retro Oddities!! Because we’re doing something retro today, I have to share another photo. This is a photo of my mom when she was a baby. I LOVE the little curl on the top of her head!!!

I also LOVE that they took this photo somewhere on the farm where there were chickens running around and some out buildings in the background! So cute! They didn’t take too many casual photos like this. Photos were usually so formal. It’s nice to get this little glimpse into normal family life.

Let’s get to this retro recipe. You would think that if you put tomato soup in a cake, you’re going to taste it. The ONLY time I’ve had tomato soup from a can is with that old stand-by, tomato soup and grilled cheese. Tomato soup is the absolute BEST with that ooey-gooey melty cheese sandwich. Well, I think that there are enough spices to cover that tomato flavor. This cake is just plain good! I have to say, this cake is so good and so spicy and so moist – it’s the perfect snack cake. There is absolutely NO taste of tomato soup in it – that I could tell, anyway. The spices make the whole house smell great while it’s baking!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tomato Soup Cake


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup Spry (Spry was a kind of vegetable shortening – I used butter)

2 eggs

1 can tomato soup

2 cups cake flour (I don’t use cake flour – I used all-purpose flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup dates or raisins (I used raisins)

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans)

Pour into 9″ x 9″ cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

While I couldn’t detect any tomato soup flavor after baking, it did have a bit of an unusual color.

I used powdered sugar in a sieve to make a pretty topping.

This is the perfect snack for a cold and snowy winter’s day!

Here we go – another great treat to have with your afternoon coffee. You can see how full of raisins and nuts this is. It’s so good. Period. Got an extra can of tomato soup in the cupboard? Give this one a try. You’re going to love this spicy Tomato Soup Cake!


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Shredded Wheat Bread

Today’s recipe for Shredded Wheat Bread comes from my godmother. She and I were talking about baking bread last summer, and when she talked about this bread, her eyes lit up and she said, “oh, that Shredded Wheat Bread was SO GOOD!” She sent me the recipe and I had to make it! I’m just sorry I took so long to do it! This is a photo of she and my mom when they were 9 and 10 years old. They grew up more like sisters than cousins, and since they were only a year apart in age, their mothers (Grandma and one of her sisters) enjoyed having them dress alike! I think the girls thought it was fun, too!

I love the dresses in this one! They also have matching haircuts!! So cute!

Ok – on to the bread. I’m putting it in the category of Retro Oddities, but this bread is anything but odd. It’s absolutely delicious! It’s a lot like, and just as delicious as, a few other bread recipes I’ve made, like Overnight Rye Bread or Dark Bread.

OMG. This. Bread. Is. So. Good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Shredded Wheat Bread

Pour over 3 large regular shredded wheats (or 1 paper package of the big biscuits):

2 3/4 cups boiling water


1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons shortening (I used butter)

1/2 cup molasses

Cool to lukewarm.

Dissolve together:

1/4 cup warm water

1 package yeast

Mix in:

8 1/4 cups flour

Knead 5 minutes (I used my big mixer with a dough hook for this).

Let rise in a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap, for 1 hour.

Punch down.

Form into loaves and let rise in pans another hour, covered with plastic wrap.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Make sure that the big Shredded Wheat biscuits are what you use for this bread. They come in a paper pouch – don’t use the little ones or the ones that are frosted!

I broke the biscuits up a bit, but the adding the boiling water works like a charm to soften them. I don’t really think you would need to break them up.

You add the boiling water and the Shredded Wheat basically dissolves.

Add the other ingredients and dissolve the yeast in the warm water so it’s ready to add.

I mixed in about half of the flour with a wooden spoon, then I switched to the big mixer.

First I mixed in the rest of the flour, then switched to the dough hook and ran the mixer for about 10 minutes to knead it.

I kneaded it by hand a couple of times to make it into a nice, smooth ball. Then I put the ball of dough into a greased bowl (flipping it over so it’s greased on top), cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour. It should double in size.

Punch it down.

I cut the dough in half, formed it into loaves, put it in the pans and let it rise another hour. I think I could have made it into 3 loaves. The only complaint from the boys was that it wouldn’t fit into the toaster! 3 smaller loaves would make that easier.

Oh so pretty! Here they are, straight out of the oven and brushed with soft butter.

This bread slices so nicely, it would be nice to be able to put this in the toaster.

There’s nothing better than a sandwich on freshly baked bread. Well, the only thing better than that is having a fresh slice, still a little warm, slathered in soft butter. Oh wow. My godmother was right – this Shredded Wheat Bread is SO GOOD!!!!!!!!






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Cherry Chocolate Cake

This recipe is one I remember from when I was growing up in the 1970’s. I think we made this Cherry Chocolate Cake quite often and it was one of my favorites. The recipe was one that, like so many of these recipes that I’ve found, I thought was lost and gone forever. It’s been found in some recipes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and I’m so glad! Luckily, I found this recipe in time to make it for my mom’s birthday cake last week.

By the way – here is a photo of my mom the birthday girl when she was just a little “squirt” – as Grandpa used to say. She was such a cutie!

I just want to know how Grandma ever got those shoes on her! Look at those buckles!

Ok – on to the birthday cake!

After having a piece of this cake, I remember why it was one of my favorites.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cherry Chocolate Cake

Mix together:

1 chocolate cake mix

1 can cherry pie filling

4 eggs

1/3 cup oil (I used canola oil)

Put into 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.


1 package instant chocolate pudding

1 1/2 cup milk

Let sit a few minutes before spreading.


I used a different chocolate frosting recipe this time, because it was a birthday cake for my chocolate loving mom.

There are very few ingredients in this ridiculously easy recipe, but it sure is good!

You can see all the cherries from the pie filling in the batter.

Adding this more chocolatey frosting just adds more decadence to this cake.

You can see how moist this cake is – it’s just amazing because there are so few ingredients. You wouldn’t think the pie filling would make that much of a difference, but I guess it does. I’m glad this recipe was found – no matter how easy it is, it’s so good with all that cherry goodness in there! This makes a great birthday cake, but it makes a great cake for any occasion.


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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Caramel Rolls (Carmel Rolls)

This recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and it’s a little bit different. I’m putting it under the usual headings, but I’m also putting it under the Retro Oddities heading because of one special ingredient. Ice cream. You heard me. Weird, but it works. Oh man, does it work. These Carmel Rolls are perfect for the holiday weekend – perfect if you’re the host or hostess and perfect if you’re the guest. They seem to be a forerunner of monkey bread where there are small pieces of dough covered in caramel and cinnamon/sugar goodness that everyone can pull apart and enjoy together. These are so good that there might be some issues with snitching of each others’ rolls. Kids would love to help make AND eat these rolls. I have to believe they won’t last long.

Caramel Rolls

These rolls are so good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Carmel Rolls


3 tubes of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces (I used “Pillsbury Grands” biscuits and cut them into 6 because they are larger biscuits).

Roll each biscuit piece in a cinnamon/sugar mixture and put into a buttered 9″ x 13″ baking pan (for cinnamon/sugar mixture I used 9 spoons of sugar and 3 spoons of cinnamon – it really doesn’t have to be an exact measurement).

For caramel:

Melt in saucepan:

1 stick margarine (I used butter)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

Melt (do not boil) and pour over top of dough pieces.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

It doesn’t say to do this, but next time I would flip these rolls onto a baking sheet for serving. Then the caramel would run down into the rolls more. I took this pan to a friend’s house, we just scooped out the rolls and the caramel was puddled in the bottom of the pan.


Cutting the biscuits into pieces is really easy and so is rolling them in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. These are, overall, REALLY easy to make.


I used a foil pan that was smaller than a 9″ x 13″ pan so I didn’t use as many biscuits – 2 tubes instead of the 3 I bought to use in this recipe.


It is a bit unusual to use ice cream in a recipe for caramel. I’ve never heard that one before, but look what a pretty caramel it made!


If the pan had been a regular 9″ x 13″ pan, it would have been a bit taller and I could have put more biscuit pieces in. There was plenty of caramel when poured over the top.


The rolls come out of the oven golden and crusty and smelling divine!


They aren’t the regular shape of a caramel roll, but who cares?! This is the shape they’re supposed to be, and they taste just like caramel rolls – ice cream and all!


These are so much fun to make – kids would like helping with this recipe!


Yes – these rolls are a little quirky and a little unique, but they are perfect for this upcoming weekend. So sticky, so sweet, so good, so ridiculously easy to make! Make a batch to bring or serve at your weekend gathering. Better yet, make two pans – they will NOT last long! Just bake them, flip them, and let the fun begin! Dig in, everyone!




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Strawberry Jello Dessert

This is one of those weird ones that I’ll have to put down as a Retro Oddity. Someone must have made this Strawberry Jello Dessert up one day when they needed something quick and they worked with what they had. Everything you need for this you can have in your cupboard and freezer, it’s so easy to have on hand. I almost missed this recipe – I just happened to see that it was on back on another recipe that wasn’t a dessert. We have to give it a try!

Strawberry Jello Dessert

This will be interesting!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Strawberry Jello Dessert

Make or buy an angel food cake – round or loaf.

Break the cake into small pieces and put in 8″ x 12″ pan.

Dissolve one box Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding in 1 cup cold milk and add 1 pint softened vanilla ice cream or 1 package Dream Whip, whipped (I recently saw that they do, indeed, still have Dream Whip on the shelves).

Beat until mixed and pour over cake pieces – do not stir.

Dissolve 1 small package of Strawberry Jello in 1 cup boiling water and add 1-10 ounce package frozen strawberries.

Pour over pudding and cake.



When breaking up the cake, I think I could have made the pieces a bit smaller.


The pudding is definitely thicker with only 1 cup of milk.


It looks kind of weird when you pour the pudding over the cake pieces.


Strawberries are so pretty – especially in the middle of the winter.


Pour the berries and jello over top of everything. It has a somewhat layered look.


It turned out great! It really did firm up and was easy to scoop out. We brought this with us when we helped my daughter move, so we used a spoon, but you could use a cake server or spatula to make square pieces.


It is delicious. A bit strange, but really good and really easy, and a nice way to be able to eat strawberries any time of the year. We’ve done so much baking in the last month, it’s nice to have something that’s this easy to do. It’s a great last minute dessert – just have the ingredients on hand and whip it up in no time!






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Caramel Bars

This is the time of year when we need recipes that we can pull together quickly. School has started, the hunting season is upon us, and we’re off and running towards the holidays. Speaking of starting school, here is a picture of my mom and my uncle off to their first day of school in September of 1953.


They look pretty excited and ready to go!!! Seriously – they could be in a movie about the 1950’s! So cute!

Here is a recipe that is really easy to do in a hurry. This is another one that uses ready-made, ready-to-go ingredients that makes these bars an easy go-to recipe. It’s just one of those things – you must ALWAYS have a box of yellow cake mix available in your cupboard!! You have to. There are so many things to do with it. Just go ahead and have it always at the ready. This recipe has to go into the “Retro Oddities” category, just because of the cake mix thing. I’m pretty sure Grandma and her friends kept the baking companies in business throughout the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s. It’s amazing what recipes these people came up with – all incredibly easy and all incredibly good!!! Every one of them. It’s just amazing. These Caramel Bars are almost more like a butterscotch or butter pecan or butter brickle flavor, but man, are they delicious!

Caramel Bars

Amazing. Who’d have thought?

I actually found this recipe on the back of another one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Caramel Bars

Combine until crumbly:

1 box yellow cake mix

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 egg

Press into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Beat together:

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in:

1 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup Heath Brickle Toffee Bits

Pour over the base and spread on.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Cool and cut.


So funny – the cake mix thing – but it works!


I just used my hand to pat down the bottom crust.


Before and after baking – the pecans get toasted and golden.


These are great for this time of year. Pecans and toffee are so great for the fall.


I have to say – I love these bars. They’re another really great treat to take anywhere and they’re really easy to do when you need something made fast. Try them with your afternoon – or after school – coffee or tea!







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Salad #4

The recipe for today is named Salad #4. There are several of these recipes (with the name of Salad) in Grandma’s file, so I have to rename them by adding a number! This is another one to be categorized as “Retro Oddities”. There is something about adding cottage cheese to Jello . . . I just don’t know where that came from. My son said, “well, it IS fruit and cheese – dessert, maybe?”. It’s just weird. This seems so strange, but in the spirit of the blog – we’re making EVERY recipe. You just never know how they’ll turn out.

Salad #2

Ok – here goes.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #4

Bring to a boil:

1 can fruit cocktail


1 small package of Jello (I used orange here, but she says that you can also use pineapple)

Bring to a boil again.

Cool some (I waited 15 minutes or so).

Mix in:

1 small cottage cheese

1 medium Cool Whip

Put mixture into a pretty bowl and chill.


I can honestly say that I’ve never boiled fruit cocktail before.


Cool the fruit cocktail/jello mixture and then just mix in the cottage cheese and Cool Whip.


The salad before and after chilling. It’s a subtle difference, but it is there.


It does firm up pretty quickly, and looks pretty!


We really are going with a theme with Grandmas recipes. Easy, quick, and then easy again. This one is SO easy, and it really is good, odd or not. Really.







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