Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Ham Salad or Ladies Aid Spread

Ham Salad or Ladies Aid Spread was a staple at the ladies church group Grandma belonged to called Ladies Aid. The ladies would gather monthly at church for fellowship, a program – usually a musical piece or reading of some kind, and lunch which consisted of sandwiches – usually this ham salad or tuna salad, dessert or pie or cake or bars, and good old Swedish coffee. Once when Grandma was one of the people in charge of the program for the day, I was recruited to sing “Beautiful Savior”. I was about 8 years old or so, and I was paid one dollar! I was NOT a fan of singing in front of people, so I’m sure I needed to be bribed to do it. Ha! Singing that day is not one of my favorite memories! For some reason, even now when I have occasion to go into Grandma and Grandpa’s church basement, I still smell the sandwiches and coffee – even though that was years ago. This Ladies Aid Spread has become a staple for our family. I made it a lot when our kids had softball or baseball games or tournaments because it travels well. One time (when we had three children playing in games on the same nights), I just didn’t have the time to make it, so I sent my husband to the store to buy it ready made from the deli section of our grocery store. He seriously asked the girl behind the counter, “do you have Ladies Aid Spread?” Together they finally figured out that he meant Ham Salad. I don’t have anyone going to ball games or tournaments anymore, but I still make this a couple of times a month – just for me!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Ham Salad or Ladies Aid Spread

Mix together:

2 cans chopped ham

1/4 cup mayonnaise

3 Tablespoons pickle relish or sweet pickle relish

It’s easy to tweak this recipe to your own liking. Add more or less mayonnaise, or more or less relish, depending on how you like it.

I use a fork to break up the canned ham. Mix in the mayonnaise and pickle relish – that’s it!

This is a very simple, but tasty recipe. I try to keep it as healthy as possible, but if you don’t mind a bit of extra sugar – and it doesn’t add very much – use sweet pickle relish in this. My sister and her family have found that the best thing to put in it is Grandma’s Sweet Pickles that have been chopped. Oh yes – using those makes a pretty outstanding batch.

I like to put this on buns, but bread works just as well. Buns hold up best if you’re taking these on a road trip or taking these sandwiches for an outing like ball tournaments or picnics.

Most of my family likes the sandwiches just like this, but I’ve been trying to get more veggies into everything, so now I use lettuce as part of the sandwich.

This sandwich spread is great for having on hand, or for packing for a road trip. I will be making this for our summer road trip this year! We should really call it Ham Salad, but in our family we like to refer to this delicious sandwich spread as Ladies Aid Spread!

 

 

 

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Leprechaun Bark

Today we’re going to make another one of those recipes that can be tweaked for any holiday or anyone’s favorites. Leprechaun Bark is a fast and easy way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or any other holiday. I’ve made Easter Bark and Halloween Bark, and I decided it’s time to celebrate spring with this green and very delightful treat. Why not celebrate absolutely EVERY holiday?!! There really isn’t too much of a recipe for this, you just melt chocolate or almond bark or candy melts and decorate like crazy. I think kids would really have fun with this, even though you may end up with sprinkles or candies all over your kitchen. Well, that can happen even when there aren’t any kids helping you make this.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Leprechaun Bark

Put a sheet of parchment paper onto the tray you want to use for making your bark.

Top the tray with pretzels, if desired.

Melt:

1 package dark chocolate chips

Pour over top of pretzels, or just onto the parchment paper.

Drizzle on:

1/2 package of white chocolate chips, melted

Sprinkle on:

Appropriate colored candies

Sprinkles

Chopped cookie bits (I used Oreo Mint Thins for this batch)

Nuts (I didn’t use any nuts on this batch)

Let cool (I put the pan into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes).

Break into pieces.

I like a bit of the sweet and salty thing, so I always add pretzels when I make bark. I’m not sure if you can tell what I did wrong here. I broke the number one rule of making bark. I forgot to put a sheet of parchment paper under the pretzels. In this case, I used a baking sheet that is almost non-stick, so it worked out all right, but please – DON’T FORGET TO USE PARCHMENT PAPER!! I had to put the baking sheet into the freezer so it got really hard and came off the sheet just fine. Whew.

I like a bit of mint, but not a lot, so I used thin mint cookies, green candies, green sugar, white jimmies, and crystal sugar (for some sparkle).

Before cooling the chocolate is glossy.  You can see a bit of a difference once it’s cooled.

So festive!

You can cut this into pieces if you want to, but when you use pretzels for the bottom, it breaks apart very easily.

Here it is – the perfect St. Patty’s snack.

Try making this very festive holiday treat! It’s so easy to do and fun to make. You’ll be hooked. I’m telling ya. You’ll want to make this for every holiday!

 

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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 . . .

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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

Topping:

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.

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Here it is – in all its glory!

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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.

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

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

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

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

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This recipe was really quick and easy.

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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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Rusks

We always had afternoon coffee at 3:00 at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on the farm. I like to think it came from the Swedish tradition of fika, or afternoon snack. Grandma’s family WAS Swedish, after all. There was always coffee (or some derivative thereof) and several kinds of cookies, bars, or cake, and sometimes crackers. It was a nice little break in the afternoon: time to regroup, rest up, and fuel up to continue and finish out the day. This photo is of Grandma (upper right) with some of her sisters and maybe a cousin (it’s kind of hard to see who it is because they’re turned to the side), taken sometime around the 1930’s. I can’t tell if it’s all four sisters, or three of them with a cousin, but either way, this is so typical of their family.

Update: My godmother (my mom’s cousin) let me know that this photo is of all four of the sisters!

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They loved to have fun and they loved to get together, they definitely loved their sweets, and they definitely loved each other. I think they totally loved the tradition of an afternoon coffee break. By the way – notice what looks like the shadows of two men taking the photo – brothers or beaus?!! Ha!

Something we had often at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for those afternoon coffee breaks was Rusks. This is a treat that my mom still LOVES to have with her afternoon tea. When we weren’t able to find them in stores anymore, I had to get online and find a recipe for them. I found this one on the PBS Food page and it’s great. I don’t know why they don’t make these commercially anymore, but they don’t, and now the only alternative is to make them myself. I changed the recipe a bit, but I did use it for the baking and general instructions.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rusks

Cut into 1/4″ slices:

1 loaf French bread

Mix together:

6 Tablespoons sugar

6 teaspoons cinnamon

Melt:

1 stick butter

Using a pastry brush, brush the slices with melted butter.

Using a spoon, sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on top of melted butter.

Put a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet.

Lay slices on top of cooling rack to bake.

You can turn them halfway through the baking if you need to – I didn’t turn them and they were perfectly crispy.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

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I can’t tell you how happy I am that I found this recipe! It’s so good – even better than “store-bought”!

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I tried both ways – brushing the butter on both sides and then just brushing one side. I liked it better when I brushed just one side. You’ll have to try it both ways and decide for yourself.

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Sprinkle on that delicious cinnamon and sugar and you’re golden. No wait – the rusks are golden, or at least turn golden.

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Perfect. Period.

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These are just perfect with your afternoon coffee. They’re so sweet and cinnamon-y and crunchy and delicious. I hope you and your family take up this tradition for the nice little break in the day. My family is trying to do it more often. It’s a great way to distress and reconnect with what’s really important. Family.

 

 

 

 

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5 Quick and Easy New Year’s Eve Snacks

Here are 5 Quick and Easy New Year’s Eve Snacks that you can use for your New Year’s party or gathering!

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Cajun Chex Mix

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Cheese Ball

Marinated Chicken Wings

Marinated Chicken Wings

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Dry Beef Dip

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Spiced Sugar and Popcorn

 

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Individual Pizzas

The recipe for today goes back to junior high school. This card came from my sister, but I remember making these in Home Economics class, too. These Individual Pizzas are so easy and so good and are perfect for anything from an after school snack to serving at a New Year’s party. You can keep the ingredients on hand and be ready, at any time, for a tasty snack. These are really fun to do. On the day I made these, I was wishing I had more than one can of refrigerator biscuits so I could just keep on making them. But that would be bad. Someone has to then eat all of them, right?

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I got so many great recipes from my junior high school Home Ec classes that I still use today, and I’ve now handed them down to my kids and now they’re making them!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Individual Pizza

Pop open:

1 tube of Country Style or Buttermilk refrigerator biscuits

Flatten until thin or about 5 inch in diameter.

Top with:

Pizza sauce

Italian seasoning

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Your favorite pizza toppings – sliced olives, mushrooms, onions, peppers, pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, ground beef, etc.

Bake at 500 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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You can flatten the biscuits as thin as you want.

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Go ahead and top the biscuits with your favorite ingredients.

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Before and after baking, you can see how delicious these are!

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I cut up a leftover grilled turkey dog to put on one of mine.

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Pepperoni is always good!

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This one is topped with sliced green olives. Delicious. Make up a can or two of these fun little pizzas and get the party started! Let everyone make their own and put their own favorite toppings on. Everybody’s gonna have a great time. Don’t forget to keep some for yourself!

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

It’s October and we’re heavy into fall right now. This is the time for pumpkin everything. I was perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago when I was under the weather, and I found a lot of interesting pumpkin recipes. I felt like trying a few, and this was one of them. This recipe for a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie was on a blog called Shugary Sweets and you can find the original here. It’s a pretty healthy treat and a great snack. You could even have it for breakfast and add some protein powder if you like (as suggested by the blog where I found this recipe). Let’s give it a try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt

1 large banana

3 Tablespoons Milk

1 teaspoon agave or honey

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 ice cubes

1 scoop vanilla protein powder, if desired

Put all ingredients into the blender and blend.

Top with whipped topping and sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.

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There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this smoothie, but it sure is tasty.

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It all goes into my good old 35 year old blender . . .

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and give it a whiz!

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Oh wow. This smoothie is so pretty, so good, and so good for you! Whip up one of these today and take it outside to enjoy the fall, all of those short-lived colored leaves, and the taste of pumpkin pie!

 

 

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Healthy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins – Sort Of

After the 6th day of the worst head cold known to man, making a permanent indentation on my couch, and pinning an incredible number of great ideas on Pinterest, I was going stir-crazy and it was time to get off the couch and make something. If that something happens to be good for me and is a great accompaniment to my daily gallon of tea or other warm beverage for my throat, all the better.

Have you noticed that people are obsessed with the pumpkin spice thing? I decided to try a recipe of my own. Well, using one that I already have, of course. A very good one. I reinvented the Oatmeal Muffin recipe of Grandma’s (one of my all-time favorites) using some of the huge stash of frozen pumpkin puree that I still have in my freezer. I just added pumpkin instead of butter in the muffins, and added the obligatory pumpkin pie spice. These Healthy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins didn’t turn out too bad, if I do say so myself. Oh yeah, and I’m calling them healthy, sort of, because of the lack of butter. There’s still plenty of sugar and sour cream in these. That’s why they’re only sort of healthy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins

2 cups oatmeal (plus extra for the top of the muffins)

2 cups sour cream

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

4 eggs

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Combine oats and sour cream.

Stir in pumpkin, egg, and brown sugar until well mixed.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

Stir into oat mixture just until blended.

You can add 1/2 to 1 cup raisins to these – for a little added healthiness.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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The pumpkin puree is a great substitute for butter. You really can’t tell the difference.

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I like to add the raisins, but you don’t have to.

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I don’t know why I had these gigantic cupcake papers, but they worked just fine. When I filled them, I used a 1/4 cup measure. A sprinkle of oats on top and they’re ready for the oven.

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They’re delicious and smell amazing!

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You can see by the color that they’ve got pumpkin and spice in them. The oats add a little extra crunch on top.

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Yes – these muffins are really good and go well with tea or any other warm beverage you like. I have to say they turned out pretty well – they’re really good and really tasty. Make a batch of these and join in the pumpkin spice trend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another After School Snack – Graham Crackers With Frosting

These treats were something that my other grandma made me for a snack when I was growing up. We lived right next door to my other grandma and gramp for the first 8 years of my life and I would go to their house after school from kindergarten through second grade. She would make these for me for an after school snack while I watched the cartoons “Yogi Bear” and “The Flintstones”.  She taught me how to make them and eventually I made them for all of my kids after school while they were growing up. There really isn’t a name for these, so we’ll call them Graham Crackers With Frosting. All three of my kids grew up having these as an after school snack all throughout their grade school, middle school, and high school years. My son says they’re absolutely necessary, even though they really were a special treat because there was usually the obligatory graham crackers and peanut butter to snack on while watching the “Garfield and Friends” cartoon after school. And if it’s at all possible, he’d still like the people in charge to bring back that cartoon. He’s an adult but he’d still watch that show every day if it was on somewhere out there in TV land.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Graham Crackers With Frosting

Combine for frosting:

1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on how thick you want the frosting)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla, peppermint, lemon or any flavor you like)

2 Tablespoons milk

Stir and spread on graham crackers.

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These cracker snacks really are incredibly easy to make.

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Mix up the frosting and spread it on the crackers. Done. You could also try different kinds of graham cracker for this. Chocolate or cinnamon would be nice.

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You can make the frosting as thick as you like by adding more powdered sugar. Just remember – the longer they sit, the thicker the frosting gets.

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These are even fun to make open-faced. Add mini chocolate chips, colored sugar (Minnesota Viking colors here), or sprinkles to match an appropriate holiday (Halloween is coming).

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This may be a simple snack, but they sure are good! I hope you give these a try. They’re a GREAT after school snack – even for grown ups. Turn on some cartoons, pour a big glass or milk, and munch on a few of these with your kids!

 

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5 Back to School Snack and Treat Ideas

Here are 5 Back to School Snack and Treat Ideas to help get the kiddos back into the swing of things this fall. You wouldn’t want to make these for EVERY day after school, but sometimes things happen that need a bit of a celebration and these recipes make a nice treat to come home to: maybe someone did well on a test, maybe someone had a rough week and it’s Friday, maybe someone won a game or audition. These are oldies but goodies, they’re all easy to make, and there’s not a bad one in the bunch!

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Peanut Butter Cookies

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S’mores Snack Mix

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Creamy Lemon Popsicles with Blueberries

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Choc-Toffee Bars

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Old-Fashioned Graham Crackers

Have a great school year!

 

 

 

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