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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Orange Tapioca Jello

Growing up on the lake, I remember springtime as being cold. It was sunny and it was green, but it was cold. I’m pretty sure this had something to do with the spring breeze blowing over the ice still left on the lake. Some years there would be a rim of open water at the edge of the ice, and we’d jump across to the ice and walk around on it. There were times, however, that there would be ice floes, which were big flat chunks of ice floating at the edge of the lake. The trick to jumping on and riding the floes was to never go farther or deeper than what you wanted to get wet if you fell off, and falling off was cold – very cold! Not that I know ANYTHING about that. Really. It was just so nice to be outside in that cold, clean, fresh air and see things growing and hear all the things melting. I also loved the wild flowers in the spring, and I had a secret place – ala The Secret Garden – where I could find all kinds of flowers to put into little glasses or vases around the house. This helped with the spring cleaning, when it was time to clear the dust and cobwebs of the winter away, open up the windows, and let in the fresh, clean air rush in and freshen everything up.

Today I’m sharing a jello salad that we always have for Easter dinner. I think the recipe originally came from Grandma years ago, and I still make it every year. The orange flavor makes it a perfect springtime treat. I don’t have the card for this anymore, so I’ll just type it out.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Orange Tapioca Jello

(This is the original recipe, but I usually double it, like I did here.)

1 package sugar-free orange jello

1 package sugar-free vanilla pudding

1 package tapioca pudding

11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained with liquid reserved

Boil jello and puddings with 3 cups water (using reserved mandarin orange juice as part of this).

When cool, top with Cool Whip (you can also use whipped cream) and mandarin oranges.


This is a fairly easy recipe, which is always nice to have when you’ve got a big holiday meal to prepare. I’m all for anything being easy, as long as it’s this delicious.

023026 (2)

The mixture is boiling hot, so if you’re worried about putting this into a good crystal bowl, let it cool down a bit before putting it into your pretty bowl or container. I’ve done this for years with this particular bowl, so I’m comfortable just putting it in there hot.


I usually top this with the Cool Whip/whipped cream and garnish with the mandarin orange segments, but to do this the way Grandma would have done it, we pass a separate bowl of whipped cream so everyone can put on (or not) what they want.


This is such a delicious recipe, and it always brings back happy memories for our family. We’ve been having this delicious salad for our Easter dinner for as long as I can remember, and it always signals springtime. Try this delicious and creamy salad – just right for springtime!



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Cabbage Salad

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


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

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cabbage Salad

Shred :

1 head of cabbage.


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

1 cup mayonnaise

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar


Add to the shredded cabbage and combine.


2 sliced bananas


pineapple chunks.


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


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


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


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



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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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Acini de Pepe Salad

Here we go again – another “salad” that is so good and so decadent, it’s ridiculous that it’s called a “salad”. It really should be considered a dessert. Well, at the very least a dessert salad. This one is kind of unusual. It uses a pasta that consists of tiny little balls that give it a great texture. I didn’t know that this kind of pasta existed until Grandma started making this in the ’80’s, which was, incidentally when she was in her 70’s. This photo of her is when she was a girl, and it made me laugh out loud! Just look at that solemn face!! You wouldn’t know that this girl loved to laugh, or that she had a sweet tooth. That’s why she would grow up to collect all of these amazing and delicious recipes! I’m sure the ultimate reason was that not only did she love sweets and good food, but she also wanted to make and share these things with her family.


I love her haircut and her beautiful big bow!!!

It’s not a big surprise, but this Acini de Pepe Salad is one of my family’s favorite! Ha! All of these recipes are family favorites!!! If you want to try something a bit unusual, but amazingly tasty, this is the “salad” for you! Believe me, it’s worth the splurge!

Acini de Pepe Salad

Acini de Pepe Salad 2

I’m so totally serious about this one – it’s amazing!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Acini de Pepe Salad


1 large can pineapple (chunks or tidbits)

2 cans mandarin oranges

Reserve juice.

Cook according to instructions on box:

1 pound Acini de Pepe pasta

Drain, rinse, and cool.

Combine in a saucepan:

1 cup sugar (she says that she used 3/4 cup and it was ok)

2 Tablespoons flour

1 3/4 juice from drained fruit

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 beaten egg yolks

Cook until thick.


Add dressing to the pasta.

Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours.


drained fruit (we have also occasionally added some cut grapes)

1 pint of sweetened whipped cream (it’s not necessary to sweeten)

Mix in mini marshmallows if it’s too juicy.


This pasta/dressing thing seems a bit odd, but it’s so good!


Add the fruit and whipped cream – pure heaven! You can see the little balls of pasta here.


This seems like a lot of steps, but overall, it’s pretty easy and can be made ahead of time. All you have to do the day of is add the fruit and whipped cream. It’s easy. It’s decadent. It’s delicious. Give this one a try. It will be one of your family’s favorites, too!


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Seven Layer Salad

I love this salad. We have a similar recipe card to what I’ve made for years that comes from one of Grandma’s sisters. She calls it Lettuce Salad, but I have always known it as Seven Layer Salad. There are only a couple of differences, one being that it has bacon bits put on at the end and the one I make has bacon bits AND shredded cheddar. The other difference is that the Lettuce Salad says to stir at the end and Seven Layer Salad just stays in layers in the pan. This one has to sit overnight, so it can be considered a “make-ahead” salad. I always love it when things can be made ahead. This is a classic, and maybe this could also be considered a “retro” salad. I’m sure everyone has their version of this salad and I’ve been making this particular version of this since the 1970’s. You never know, there may be some young cooks out there who don’t know about this one.

Lettuce Salad

Lettuce Salad 2

This is one of my all-time favorites.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Seven Layer Salad

Make a thick layer of lettuce:

1 large head of iceberg lettuce, chopped


2 cups celery, diced

1 green pepper, diced

6 green onions tops, sliced

1 can water chestnuts, sliced (optional)

1 large package frozen peas (not cooked)


2 cups salad dressing or mayonnaise

2-3 Tablespoons sugar

enough milk to make dressing, 1/4 cup or so

Put dressing on top.

Sprinkle with:

1/2 -1 cup parmesan cheese

Let stand overnight.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with:

6 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

bacon bits (I used 4 strips real bacon, cooked)


This goes together really fast if you have all of your layers chopped and ready to go.


You can kind of see the layers here on the side of the pan.


It’s a very pretty salad!!


Take this classic to your next picnic or gathering. Everyone will feel nostalgic when you show up with this delicious retro salad. It’s just so good.


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Crunchy Vegetable Salad

There are so many things to remember about staying at the farm in the summertime, but most of all, I remember Grandma and Grandpa and their love and attention. When we would bring lunch out to Grandpa in the field because he didn’t have time to stop what he was doing and come to the house for lunch, it wasn’t just the fun of bringing him the food under the guise of a picnic, or the breeze rattling the leaves of the young cottonwood trees surrounding ditch, or the wind making waves in the long grass. It was Grandpa teaching me how to put a thick piece of grass between my thumbs, blow on the grass, and make the quacking sound that must have surely been the reason for the name “quack grass” (or so I thought when I was little).  When I would help Grandma get her chores done, it wasn’t just helping her hang the clothes out on the clothesline so they would smell like fresh air and sunshine, or being able to pick black raspberries to put on our creamy vanilla ice cream after dinner, or listening every evening for the sound of the church chimes floating over the fields from their small town a mile away. It was her teaching me one evening as we were going for a walk about twilight time and we spotted the first star in the night sky,

“Star light, star bright,

first star I see tonight.

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight!”

I wish I had just one more day – just a little more time to tell them how much I loved them and how much they meant to me. But I think they knew. We were lucky to have them for such a long time, and I never took that for granted. They were the best!

We’re making a summer salad today. I’m not sure where this recipe originally came from, but it’s a good one. We had a good family friend who always made the best salads, and I think this might have come from her. This Crunchy Vegetable Salad goes with anything and goes anywhere and is pretty long-lasting. It’s delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Crunchy Vegetable Salad

Combine in a large bowl:

2 cups celery, chopped

1 cup green onion, chopped

1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets

1 bunch broccoli, broken into small florets

Mix together:

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons vinegar (I used cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon dill weed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Toss dressing and vegetables well.

Pour fresh peas (I used frozen) on top.

Cover and refrigerate several hours.


The ingredients are all so pretty and green!


Get the veggies cut up, mix up the dressing, combine the two and top with the peas!


Easy peas-y!!


This really is pretty easy to put together – a bit of chopping and then it’s just to make the dressing and mix it together.


This salad is really beautiful, really crunchy, really easy, and really a great dish to serve with anything. Remember this one when you need something to bring to a gathering. It’s long-lasting and will hold well no matter where you need it to go, and you can very easily make this a day or two ahead of time. This is a great summer salad and now that you have this taken care of – get out there and make some great family summertime memories!!






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