Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Cantaloupe With Chicken Salad

This Cantaloupe With Chicken Salad sounds so good! Chicken salad – with fruit??? Yes! My daughter said it sounds like a throwback to the 80’s, with the fruit and chicken, but who cares – this is delicious! When I had one of my first real jobs, which happened to be right at the start of the 80’s, I would go to lunch once a week to a little bistro across the street from where I worked. Yes – I could only afford to do that once a week! They had a delicious chicken salad on the menu that was served in a tomato. The tomato was cut to look like a flower and then a serving of the tasty, fruit-laden chicken salad was set in the center of the flower. I loved it! I felt so grown up ordering and enjoying and devouring that beautiful little chicken salad lunch. This recipe reminds me of that – it’s pretty AND delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cantaloupe with Chicken Salad

Combine in a large bowl:

2 cups chicken, cooked and cubed

1 1/2 to 2 cups blueberries

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half

1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pour dressing over chicken mixture and toss gently.

Spoon into cantaloupe halves.

This salad is FULL of fruit – along with the chicken.

Can I just say – this dressing is a game changer – the ginger is the key and makes it amazingly refreshing!

I mean, yum. Another great recipe from Grandma’s old church cookbook!

The salad is delicious alone, but when you put it into the cantaloupe – amazing!

So pretty!

What a great little lunch or party dish. The recipe says it serves 6, but I don’t know if it’s too easy to get 3 cantaloupes to ripen at the same time, but it is summertime – go for it if you want to. I happened to have one that was perfect at just the right time. This is a great salad for lunch or any gathering – baby showers, bridal showers, book club, girlfriends lunch, you name it! Try this tasty Cantaloupe with Chicken Salad and enjoy a great summertime lunch!


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Cranberry Grape Salad

This recipe for Cranberry Grape Salad has been in our family for 3 generations. It looks like it might have been Grandma’s youngest sister who originally found it, because Grandma wrote her sister’s initials on the recipe card. This is one of my favorite parts of our holiday meals – a favorite of my whole family, really. Family is what the holidays are all about, so I’m sharing this photo of Grandma and Grandpa with my uncle and my mom at the farm at Christmastime from sometime around (or just before) 1950. It looks like this may have been their Christmas card that year, showing the kids reading from what I assume would be the Christmas story.

Everyone sure is dressed in their finest here – and I love the little tree covered in tinsel. Seeing this picture reminds me of how much I loved going to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm at Christmastime. When I was a kid, they had a silver tree (like built-in tinsel) with blue ornaments on it. The blue ornaments didn’t stop them from using the color wheel that would go around and around and constantly change the colors of those shiny branches. Of course, the colors were just the reflected colors on the wheel, but it was magical! I’d lay there for hours in the dark watching that tree sparkle and change. Then I’d move to rearranging the animals in the stable of the manger scene with the Christmas bulb star and from that to staring at the little church that was lit by a Christmas bulb glowing red inside, both always residing in the dining room to be front and center during all of the Christmas celebrations. Those are all things ingrained in my psyche – those memories that will be with me always, just like the ornaments and the light up church that are still part of my Christmas decorating, and the manger scene that is now a part of their oldest great-grandchild’s Christmas decorating. I will always remember those special decorations, and I will always remember just how special those two were to me, and how much I miss them.

Ok – wipe away the tears – back to the recipe. Grandma had written Salad on this one – which would make this Salad #11, but we’ve always CALLED it Cranberry Grape Salad. So that’s what the name is, henceforth. 🙂

Note the “Very Good” connotation here, and where she had written (Marshmallows) – more on that later!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cranberry Grape Salad

Put in bowl of food processor (or grind together):

2 cups cranberries

2 cups sugar

Cover and let stand in refrigerator overnight.



2 cups (or more) red grapes, cut in half

Fold in:

2 cups whipping cream, whipped

(She just says “whipping cream” here, with no amount, but I know from years of making this salad that a pint is about right.)

Nuts (chopped) may be added (I’d say 1/2-1 cup).

Here’s another hint – about the marshmallows – Grandma has written (Marshmallows) on the card, because she always said that if the salad got too juicy, you can just add some miniature marshmallows to take care of that. There. That’s an extra special hint – for if that situation ever arises.

Sometimes the ground cranberries and sugar gets pretty juicy after standing in the frig overnight – sometimes it doesn’t.

Whip the cream and add in the cranberries, sugar, and grapes.

If the cranberries are juicy, the salad will be more pink than this – it just depends!

I never add nuts – my family doesn’t care for them in a salad – and I’ve rarely needed to use the marshmallows, but if your salad gets too wet or juicy – you know what to do!

This is another one of those salads that really is more like a dessert, but this is the time of year for indulgence, and because this one is so traditional for our family, we’d never be without it at some point during the holidays. It’s pretty easy to do, it’s amazingly delicious, and it’s a tradition that brings back so many memories of Christmas past with the family. Make this Cranberry Grape Salad for your holiday dinner this year and your family will want it EVERY year!


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Salad #10

You all know how this goes – Grandma had so many “salad” recipes (recipes just named “Salad”) that we are now up to Salad #10. Remember that these “salads” don’t always contain vegetables. In fact, most of them are made with some kind of jello, fruit, whipped cream combination. There was that one Vegetable Salad that contained jello along with some vegetables and other weird things, but we don’t talk about that one. I did say I’d make ALL the recipes – but that one was waaayyy out there. Grandma just had so many family gatherings, potluck dinners, and church gatherings, that it seems that she kept a file of a LOT of different “salads” to pull out on a moments notice. She made this particular “salad” a lot, and I know why – it’s the most ridiculously easy salad EVER – AND it’s delicious. By the way – all of Grandma’s “salad” recipes are absolutely delicious. Except for that Vegetable Salad.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #10

The recipe says to make a package of lemon pie filling or pudding mix as directed except use whole eggs and add 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and then cool.

I wanted to make this salad even easier, so I used a can of lemon pie filling instead – no mixing the pudding or pie filling ahead of time.


1 cup of whipping cream (there’s no need to add any sugar to the cream – when you add the fruit, that makes it “plenty sweet”)

Mix in:

1 can lemon pie filling (I used this instead of the package of lemon pudding and pie filling mix – Grandma says on the card that you can also use apricot or peach pie filling)

Add drained fruit:

I added: fruit cocktail, pineapple, mandarin oranges

If necessary you can add some mini marshmallows – I used about a half of a bag just for demonstration purposes – the salad didn’t really need them (Grandma always did this when she felt the “salad” was too soft or runny from the fruit juice).

This recipe is seriously one of the EASIEST “salads” you could possibly make. You could even have the ingredients in your pantry, ready to go – especially if you wanted to use something like a frozen non-dairy whipped topping instead of whipping cream – just keep that in your freezer.

I mixed the lemon pie filling and the whipped cream together first.

Next, in went the drained fruit. After the fruit is mixed in, this is where you can then decide if you need some miniature marshmallows to make the salad less “soft” or “wet”.

I did add about a half of the bag of marshmallows, just for demonstration purposes. Plus they’re delicious – that is the goal here, after all.

This “salad” can be served straight from the big bowl, if you’re at a larger gathering, but it’s also pretty in individual dishes if you’re serving it for a smaller gathering.

Whether you need a “dish to pass” for a potluck dinner, or it’s just you and your special someone for a more intimate dinner, this “salad” is quick and easy to make, and it’s absolutely delicious. Add this Salad #10 to your recipe arsenal for all of your “salad” needs, and you’ll be able to whip this one up at a moment’s notice.


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Garden Salad

My mom had this Garden Salad recipe, and it’s perfect for this time of the summer – August and September – here in Minnesota because it includes all the vegetables that are ready to pick right now in our gardens. I mean, who doesn’t like a good garden salad this time of the summer? Both of my sets of grandparents had gardens, and we had one, too. I loved this time of year when things were ripe and ready to pick (that’s why I love Farmer’s Markets so much – that works, too). We’d all go out and pick boxes full of tomatoes, onions, green peppers, zucchini, carrots, green beans, and pumpkins. One year my mom decided to grow cabbage, and after a bout with some big green caterpillars found in them after they were picked, we never grew those again. When you grow a garden, you end up with a lot of vegetables ready to pick all at the same time, and in addition to freezing or canning the vegetables (and back when we were kids, we canned and froze A LOT), we look for salads and dishes that use those vegetables RIGHT NOW, when they’re fresh and sweet and juicy and ripe and . . . ok, ok. Whew. Guess I get carried away with the garden vegetable thing. This is one of those recipes – one of those salads.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Garden Salad

Cook according to package instrucitons:

1-7 ounce package of ring pasta (I used a half of a 1 pound box of the large rings)

Drain and cool.


1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

Combine in a large bowl:

1 small head of cabbage, finely chopped (I shredded the cabbage)

1/2 green pepper, finely chopped

1 large cucumber, finely chopped

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped

Fold together dressing, pasta, and vegetables.

Refrigerate, covered, several hours or overnight.

I shredded the cabbage (out of habit, I think) instead of chop it, but next time I’d just chop it so all the vegetables are the same shape.

When chopping the cucumber, I left the seeds in the first half until I remembered to use a small spoon and run it down the middle of the cucumber to take out the seeds. Nobody wants a runny salad.

Here we are, all ready to fold it all together.

I’m pretty sure someone decided to stretch this salad, at some point, by adding the pasta. Good idea!

Oh yum.

What a great side dish. You get to use some of your garden vegetable abundance, while enjoying a delicious, creamy, sweet and sour kind of salad. This salad would go perfectly with any main from sandwiches to pork chops to steak or burgers. If you have an over abundant garden right now, you’re going to want to make up a big batch of this Garden Salad – enjoy!





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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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Celery Seed Dressing

The recipe for today is for Celery Seed Dressing. I got this one years ago from my aunt, who brought it to a family gathering. It was so delicious, I emailed her to get the recipe. She emailed it back to me, but there isn’t a name on it, so I’m calling it Celery Seed Dressing. Summer is short here in Minnesota, and we want our recipes to be fast, easy to pull together, and amazingly delicious. Well, I’m telling ya, this one fits the bill. It makes a simple summer salad (maybe made with your fresh garden harvest) incredibly delicious with the addition of this amazing dressing.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Celery Seed Dressing

In a microwave safe bowl, combine:

1/3 cup sugar (I cut back on this a bit – it was plenty sweet!)

3 Tablespoons cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon dried, minced onion

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Microwave on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.

Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Whisk in:

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

I let it cool down a bit at this point.

Drizzle on salad and toss.

Here are the salad ingredients my aunt used that day:

Spinach (I can’t remember if there was lettuce, but I used romaine this time)

Cherry tomatoes

Mushrooms, sliced

Mandarin oranges

Sliced almonds, toasted

Green onions, sliced

You can really add anything you want to this delicious dressing, but these particular ingredients are really good!

I just use a small whisk to whisk the oil into the seasonings.

This is a beautiful salad.

Drizzle the dressing onto the salad goodies and give it a toss.

This salad and dressing would go with any main dish, but I served it with grilled chicken with BBQ Sauce. It’s a delicious salad dressing and makes a great, fast summer meal very special. Try this Celery Seed Dressing and grill up something amazing tonight!


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6 Salads to Kick Off the Summer Right!

Here are 6 Salads to Kick Off the Summer Right! It’s going to be in the 90’s for Memorial weekend here in Minnesota. I’m pretty sure that means that summer is officially here, and I’m pretty sure that means that I don’t want to turn on my oven to make anything. The only thing you have to do that will heat up your kitchen when making these salads is to either cook pasta or rice. These 6 salads are easy to do, fast to make, and are all incredibly delicious. I would never kid around about that kind of thing. Really. I wouldn’t. Try one of these – they’re all good! Enjoy!

Chicken Salad

Frozen Cole Slaw

Glorified Rice Jello

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Seven Layer Salad

Acini de Pepe Salad

Crunchy Vegetable Salad

Oops! I guess you get a bonus salad recipe since I put 7 recipes on here instead of 6! Yay!






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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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Salad #7

This is another in a long line of salad recipes that are in Grandma’s file, and we are on Salad #7 today. Grandma would use these salads for all of the family gatherings, church events, and entertaining she and Grandpa would do. There were a LOT of events of every kind, so she needed a lot of different recipes. She wouldn’t have brought the same recipe more than once. You needed to show your salad prowess at these things, and the easier the recipe, the better. If you were a busy farm wife and if you could do something to save time, I’m sure you’d be more than happy to do that, as she was. These easy recipes are great for all of us trying to save time, yet wanting to put delicious treats and food out there for everyone to enjoy.

This is another salad that really should be called dessert!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #7


1 package of Lemon Jello

1 package of Lemon Pudding (not instant)

2 1/2 cups water

Cook until it comes to a boil.



2 cups Cool Whip (which is pretty close to a whole small container)

1 large can crushed pineapple (grandma had written “dried” pineapple, but I think she meant a drained can of crushed pineapple)

This recipe is so simple, and you can have the ingredients handy for making this last-minute.

It takes a bit of folding to incorporate all the ingredients, but it’s worth the time it takes!

You can leave the salad in a pretty bowl and let it firm up, or you can put it into pretty glasses (like I did here) and serve them individually. We enjoyed these with a Sunday dinner and had them while they were still a bit soft. They were delicious!

This is another ridiculously easy, ridiculously tasty recipe that you’re going to want to keep handy for any occasion. How can you not just love these recipes that are so easy, so good, so handy, and so “grandma”. I know that you and your guests will adore this lemon-y and pineapple-y Salad #7.


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Ramen Coleslaw Salad

This recipe for Ramen Coleslaw Salad comes from my sister-in-law, and it is so amazingly delicious. Everyone loves this salad, and I have made it many, many times over the years since she first shared this recipe with me. I can remember one time in particular that I served this at dinner when my mom and Grandma and Grandpa came for a visit. We had eaten dinner and the table was being cleared. My husband went into the kitchen to get something and was confronted with the sight of Grandma, standing by the sink, the salad bowl in hand, slurping the last of the dressing from this salad with the serving spoon. She grew up in the Great Depression – she was NOT going to waste one drop of that delicious dressing!!! Haha! I think he just let it go and didn’t give her a hard time about it. She sure gave him a hard time enough about his eating handfuls of home-baked cookies  – when you have to bake for a large family of siblings like she had done in her youth, you don’t eat more than your fair share! She sure liked to tease him about that, but he didn’t want to make her feel bad for not wasting that dressing! He just let her enjoy it. That is a GREAT memory.

This salad is positively addicting!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Ramen Coleslaw Salad

Mix together for the salad:

1 – 1 pound package of coleslaw mix

1/2 of a red pepper

1/2 of a green pepper

4-5 green onions, diced

2 packages of Ramen Noodles, broken up (I used chicken) – save the flavor packets for the dressing

1/2 cup toasted almonds (I used slice almonds)

For dressing mix together:

1/4 cup sesame oil

3/4 cup oil (I used canola)

1/3 cup vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

2 flavor packets from the Ramen Noodles

Dash of soy sauce

Store in refrigerator if you want.

Pour over salad 10 minutes before serving.

I mixed up the dressing first. Put all the ingredients into a jar, put on the lid, and shake it up. If it sits for any length of time (maybe overnight) it takes a bit of shaking to mix it all up and get the sugar off of the bottom of the jar. It can be done. It’s worth the effort.

The salad is pretty and colorful, with pretty simple ingredients.

I brought this to my mom’s house a few weekends ago, so I packaged everything “to go”. First – mix the vegetables together for the salad.

Next I put the almonds into a separate zip top bag, put the broken up ramen noodles into a bag, and then the veggies go into their own bag. The dressing is in the jar and it’s all ready to go and pack up.

When you’re ready to eat the salad, mix it all together and pour over the dressing. It’s an easy salad to take along or to share.

This is seriously one of my favorites.

I love a salad that’s this easy to make and this tasty. Everyone you know will LOVE this salad. They may even love it enough to drink the dressing when dinner is over. Who knows?! You’re going to want to try this Ramen Coleslaw Salad – soon!!



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