Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie

We’re sticking with our “Nothing But Easy Summer” theme again today with Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie. On top of that  – we’re giving it a patriotic twist by topping this delicious pie with berries. This pie is SO easy and SO good! It fits right in with what we’re trying to do this summer – take it EASY! You could top this pie with berries, as I did here, or try some Chocolate Sauce! This photo is of a little girl who loves chocolate. Who knew she would grow up to love chocolate SO much?!!! This is my mom being held by her grandmother, and it looks like she’s a pretty new baby. Maybe just a couple of weeks old.

So precious – I love the way her grandmother is looking at her with that mixture of love and pride that all grandmothers have for all of their grandchildren. She was the first grandchild in this particular family. Who knows – maybe this grandmother is who she got her love of chocolate from!

Well, for this particular pie, I used berries to top it. We’re getting pretty close to 4th of July, and the more we can use those patriotic colors, the better! You can’t get much easier than berries on top!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie

Microwave until soft (15-20 seconds):

8 ounces cream cheese

Mix with electric mixer until real smooth:

Softened cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

Stir in with a spoon:

8 ounces Cool Whip

Pour into:

Keebler Shortbread Cookie Pie Crust (yes – store-bought)

Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

Top with berries or chocolate sauce.

It’s reidiculous how good this pie is with basically 3 ingredients (not counting the berries).

Mixing the cream cheese and sugar together makes it easier to stir in the Cool Whip.

Mix it all thoroughly and then spread the mixture into the pie crust. Yes – it’s store-bought (gasp!), but you can go ahead and make your own graham cracker crust if you want to. I’m just keeping this as easy as possible.

Next, the pie goes into the refrigerator – the card says 3 hours or overnight, so I left it in overnight.

There is nothing easier and more delicious than sweet, seasonal berries, and they just happen to be perfect for the 4th of July. But you know what’s also easy and delicious? Chocolate Sauce. Either way is gonna be great!

This pie will be a regular in my arsenal. So easy, so good, so pretty. Who knew that keeping things easy could be so delicious?!! I’m really starting to enjoy this “Nothing But Easy Summer” thing. It’s just so good, in so many ways! It’s good because it’s easy to do. It’s good because these recipes have all been delicious. It’s good because it gets you outside enjoying the summer before it’s over and gone. It’s all good! Try Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie and get out and enjoy your summer!

 

 

 

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S’mores Bars

Everybody loves s’mores, and while I have made The Easiest S’mores Pie Ever and S’mores Snack Mix, the recipe for S’mores Bars today is a ridiculously easy one that I came up with one Sunday for a family lunch. As I’ve said almost every post so far this summer, this is the “Nothing But Easy Summer”, and I refuse to be in the house any longer than absolutely necessary. You’re going to love this recipe, too, for how easy and how yummy these bars are. I recommend you bake them just before you serve them for maximum melty gooeyness.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

S’mores Bars

Mix up:

1 recipe of cookie dough (pan bar version) from the back of a bag of your favorite chocolate chips – just don’t add the chocolate chips yet! I would think you could also use any of your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough recipes.

Spread cookie dough in 9″ x 13″ jelly roll pan.

Instead of mixing the chocolate chips into the dough (I used about half of a bag of chocolate chips), I sprinkled them on top of the dough.

Next I sprinkled on about half of a bag of mini marshmallows.

Bake according to the directions for the recipe on the bag of chocolate chips.

The chocolate chips get melty and the marshmallows turn crusty brown on top and gooey on the inside.

I only suggested baking these right before serving because of the deliciousness of the warm cookie, melty chocolate, and gooey marshmallow. However, I brought these to a Sunday lunch at my daughter’s place, and we had a picnic outside. After the bars sat in the sun while we ate lunch, they were just as warm, melty, and gooey as they were right out of the oven! I just covered them with a piece of foil to transport, left it on while the bars sat in the sun, and enjoyed them after lunch. These S’mores Bars are so easy and so delicious – you’ll want to keep them in mind for your next picnic!

 

 

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Rhubarb Bread Pudding

This recipe for Rhubarb Bread Pudding comes from one of my mom’s friends. I’ve made Bread Pudding since I was in junior high school, but this one is made with rhubarb! Yay! I mean, how great is that? Sometimes you get the best recipes from friends. You go over to their house to visit, maybe for coffee or some event, and you come home with a great recipe for the delicious dish they made for you when you came over. I just love that. Grandma was big on getting recipes from her friends and family. She and her sisters were so good at getting great recipes – mainly because they had a lot of family and friends. Plus, they had a lot of family to make delicious dishes FOR, like the guys in this photo! This one shows Grandma’s brothers, Grandpa, and maybe a cousin or friend – I don’t know who the other guy is. How great is this one using that perspective?!!!

OMG I love this one so much. Whoever took the photo had to get down on their stomach, or put the camera down on the sidewalk, and then take the shot. This was probably taken with one of the old-school cameras where you had to look into the top to see what you were taking a picture of. For those of you who don’t know what the heck I’m talking about – Google it! So cool for back at that time! Because of the brick house, it looks like this one was taken on Grandma’s family farm, which is still there!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Mix:

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup milk

2 cups rhubarb

4 slices bread, buttered and cut into cubes

Pour into 9″ square pan or casserole dish.

Sprinkle nutmeg over top.

Bake until 350 degrees or until set, about 45 minutes.

I’m so glad it’s rhubarb season!

I used a 12 grain bread (only because that’s what kind of bread was sitting on my kitchen counter), but any kind of bread will do. Mix verything up and then fold in the rhubarb and bread.

This is such a simple but delicious recipe.

After baking it looks sooo good.

This is really a great recipe to make for last-minute guests, because it’s so quick and easy to make.

I can’t believe how well this recipe fits into my “Nothing But Easy Summer”. It’s SO EASY to make, and it’s SO DELICIOUS! I’ll be making this one every year for years to come – it’s that good. Bring on the last-minute company! I know you’re going to love this easy recipe for Rhubarb Bread Pudding.

 

 

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Easy Unbaked Bars

Today’s recipe for Easy Unbaked Bars came from one of my sisters-in-law. She brought these to her mother’s 94th birthday celebration last spring, and I had to have the recipe. The name says it all – easy – unbaked – bars. Check, check, and check. That’s the way we like ’em! They’re perfect for this “Nothing But Easy Summer”! I’m not doing anything this summer that isn’t easy. That leaves all possible time during the day to enjoy the summer while it lasts. We’ve had a very cool spring here in Minnesota, and once summer hits – we’ll outside, enjoying every minute before the flakes fly again next fall. Have I mentioned that I’m not doing anything this summer that’s not easy. Right – I’m keeping is easy – nothing but easy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Easy Unbaked Bars

Melt in microwave 1 1/2 minutes:

1 10 oz. package of peanut butter chips

1 stick butter

Add:

1/2 to 3/4 bag of miniature marshmallows

In 9″ x 13″ greased pan, put half of a jar of roasted peanuts.

Spread first mixture on top of peanuts.

Top with other half of jar of peanuts.

That’s it – easy!

Go ahead and get the first layer of peanuts ready before starting on the middle layer.

There really aren’t a lot of ingredients for these. It’s amazing how that makes for such an addictive treat.

Melt the chips and butter and stir until smooth.

Stir in the mini marshmallows – they’ll get a bit melty, yet still hold their shape.

You might want to spoon on the middle layer so you can cover the bottom layer of peanuts while keeping the peanuts in place.

Once the top layer of peanuts is on, I recommend you put the whole pan into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Did I mention that these are addictive? Oh my.

It’s a good thing that these bars are easy to make, cuz I think we’re all going to be making a lot or pans of these over the course of the summer. Yep – nothing but easy – and ridiculously, deliciously addictive, I might add. Watch out for these! Don’t say I didn’t warn you! You and everyone you know will get hooked on these Easy Unbaked Bars!

 

 

 

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Rhubarb Jam with Apricot

This recipe for Rhubarb Jam with Apricot is one of the additional recipes on Grandma’s card for Rhubarb Jam. She wrote on her card about 3 other kinds of pie filling that would be good in her recipe for Rhubarb Jam, so I decided to try them all. I’ve already tried Rhubarb Jam with Blueberry, and next up is the Rhubarb Jam with Apricot, which would also be good. I’m sure this is a bit confusing but my original recipe for Rhubarb Jam on Plenty Sweet Life was from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. Then I found Grandma’s recipe card with her recipe written on it, along with the 3 different flavors she also thought would be good. That’s where the confusion is – the recipe for Rhubarb Jam from the church cookbook and Grandma’s original Rhubarb Jam (from my post for Rhubarb Jam with Blueberry) recipe on her card are basically the same, so I didn’t make that recipe again. Ok. I’m glad we have that straightened out! Whew!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Jam with Apricot

Mix together and let stand overnight:

5 cups rhubarb, chopped

3 cups sugar

Cook 20 minutes.

Stir in:

1 small package strawberry jello

1 can apricot pie filling

Pour into jars.

Store in refrigerator.

I let the rhubarb and sugar sit in the refrigerator overnight, covered with plastic wrap. This makes a nice amount of juice with which to make the jam.

After cooking the rhubarb and sugar mixture for 20 minutes, all you do is stir in the Strawberry Jello and apricot pie filling.

I use a wide mouth funnel to get the jam into the jars without spilling TOO much. There was enough jam for 2 pint sized jars and 3 smaller containers (a taste that went home with my kids).

You can see the chunks of delicious rhubarb in the jam. Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.

I like to use the jam for a topping on yogurt. Don’t forget a little sprinkling of Granola on top, too.

Like most, if not all, of Grandma’s recipes, this jam is absolutely delicious with an apricot flavor that mellowed a bit the next day. It’s so easy to make, and great for a hostess gift if you’re spending a weekend at a cabin, heading to a barbeque, or just want to make someone’s day. We’re keeping it a “Nothing But Easy Summer” by making this easy to make, delicious Rhubarb Jam with Apricot!

 

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Rhubarb Cake

Today’s recipe for Rhubarb Cake comes from a family friend, and my mom’s had this recipe for many years. I’m calling this one Rhubarb Cake, but I have also made Rhubarb Cake with Orange Sauce. I hope that won’t be confusing. I really don’t know if you can ever have TOO MANY rhubarb recipes. Every one is different, everyone is good, every one is a MUST DO. Rhubarb is only here for a such a short time, and unless you freeze some for using next spring, like I did with the rhubarb for this recipe, you have to be quick and make as many recipes as you can. I usually don’t have enough rhubarb to freeze, but I did last year, as you can see in my post for Freezing Rhubarb. That’s how I was able to make this recipe before my rhubarb was quite ready to pick. I get anxious to make rhubarb recipes BEFORE the rhubarb is ready – every spring! It’s good to know that the frozen rhubarb works in this one – and I didn’t even thaw it. Seriously, I just put it in frozen when I stirred it in. “Nothing But Easy Summer”, baby!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Cake

For topping:

Mix together and set aside:

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup nuts, chopped

1 teaspoon cinnamon

For cake:

Cream:

1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)

Add:

1 1/2 cup white sugar

Mix well.

Add:

1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat in:

1 egg

Add alternately to first mixture, beginning and ending with flour:

1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup sour milk (1 cup milk plus 1 Tablespoon vinegar)

2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon flour

Stir in:

3 cups rhubarb, finely cut up

Pour batter into 9″ x 13″ metal pan.

Sprinkle topping over cake batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (because I used the frozen rhubarb, it took about an extra 10 minutes to bake).

I like to mix up the topping before starting so I’m ready for it in the end.

I used some frozen rhubarb for this, so I didn’t have this finely cut up – it was just the way I cut it up when I froze it.

Sprinkle on the ginormous amount of topping – yes, it all goes on there!

This cake smells so good when it’s baking! It took a little longer to bake since I used the frozen rhubarb, but other than that – no difference.

You must have the obligatory ice cream or whipped cream with a rhubarb dessert. You just have to.

This one totally fits into the “Nothing But Easy Summer” theme. I love cake that’s very easy to make and very easy to eat – this IS that cake. The topping makes frosting unnecessary, too – more easiness. It’s so delicious, you’re going to want to run right out, pick a bunch of that rhubarb, and make this Rhubarb Cake!

 

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Rhubarb Crisp

I’m not sure where this recipe for Rhubarb Crisp came from, but I found it in my mom’s recipe box. It looks old, so I’d guess it came from Grandma originally, but it’s possible mom got it from someone she worked with years ago. I had to share this photo of my grandma and grandpa with my mom and my uncle because I think there might be some rhubarb growing right behind them. Actually, I’m not too sure that this photo was taken on the farm, but even if it wasn’t, there was probably some rhubarb growing there no matter who’s house it was. Grandma and family were not too into taking family photos that weren’t formal. That’s why this photo is so awesome! It’s just a nice casual photo of a beautiful summer day.

I just love this one!

Grandma grew (and used) as much rhubarb as possible. She had a LOT of rhubarb recipes. Rhubarb was one thing that was ALWAYS in everyone’s garden back in the day. It grows almost like a weed, keeps coming back every year, and it’s absolutely delicious in everything you could possibly bake with it: cakes, pies, desserts, jam, bread or muffins. You could grow it beside your garage, in your garden, or right in the middle of your backyard. The season is short (my mom always says you should only use it until it starts to get “woody”, which is through the end of June, at most) so you have to make the most of it and bake all of your favorite rhubarb recipes while you can.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Crisp

Cut up and put into a 9″ x 13″ pan:

3 cups rhubarb (I used 4 cups)

Beat and pour over to top of the rhubarb:

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

3 Tablespoons quick tapioca

Crumbs for topping – mix together and sprinkle on top of all:

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup butter, slightly softened

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

I mixed up the crumb topping first so it was ready to go. You could use a fork, two knives, or a pastry blender, but I just used my fingertips to make it crumbly.

The eggs don’t really need to be beaten before mixing the batter together.

It all mixes up pretty well.

I used 4 cups of rhubarb instead of 3 cups, just because that’s how much I got when I cut up all the stalks that I had picked. I think it could have used even more rhubarb. The batter looks like it will hardly cover all the rhubarb. I used a small spoon and tried to spread it on as evenly as possible.

Over the top of everything goes the crumb topping. Sprinkle it ALL on there!

After baking it really doesn’t look like much.

Oh boy – this is good!

My family decided that this is a keeper. It’s one of the most delicious rhubarb recipes I have ever tried. It really is that good. It got a bit flat, and like I said above, it doesn’t look like much, but boy oh boy, is it good. Seriously, it was almost like candy. Sweet yet tart, crunchy on top yet almost creamy underneath. Mmmmm. You could serve this with whipped cream, but I happened to have some vanilla ice cream – and if you’re going to serve it with ice cream, I highly recommend you serve it warm. Not hot – just warm – and let the ice cream melt and immerse the crisp in all that vanilla, creamy goodness. I know you can find some rhubarb growing somewhere. If you don’t have your own rhubarb plants, get to know your neighbors and see if you could pick just enough from their rhubarb plants to make this delicious Rhubarb Crisp!

 

 

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North Carolina Lemon Pie

My son was the one who sent me this recipe for North Carolina Lemon Pie. He had seen it somewhere, emailed me the link, and in so many words, wanted me to make it sometime. I found out it came from a website called Bless This Mess, and after reading the post about this pie, I learned that Melissa from Bless This Mess had found it in an old  issue of Cook’s Country Magazine. My son likes pie. All kinds of pie. He saw that this pie had a crust made with saltine crackers and he decided we should try it. Well, I was recently looking through old emails and found this recipe again. I thought it was, indeed, time to try it. Now, he is totally capable of making his own pie, and has made pie for us for years for Thanksgiving, but I think he may have forgotten that he sent me that email a few years ago (probably before I was sick with pancreatitis), and I decided to surprise him with it one Sunday when our kids came for dinner.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

North Carolina Lemon Pie

For the crust:

Pulse in the food processor:

1 sleeve of saltine crackers (4 ounces – weighing is best to be sure you get enough cracker crumbs)

1/8 teaspoon salt

Add:

1/4 cup corn syrup

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pulse about 15 times.

Add the cracker mixture to a 9 inch pie plate, pressing the crumbs even and up the sides of the plate.

Place pie plate on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes.

For the filling (make while crust is baking):

Whisk in a large bowl:

1 can sweetened condensed milk

4 large egg yolks

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoons lemon grated lemon zest

Add:

1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

Whisk until well combined.

Leave the pie plate on the baking sheet, remove from oven, and add the filling.

Place back in the hot oven and bake until the edges are set but the middle jiggles, about 15-17 minutes.

Cool completely.

Refrigerate until completely chilled.

For the topping:

Whip until stiff peaks form:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Spread over the top of the pie and serve chilled.

Press the crumbs up the side of the pie so there’s plenty of room for the delicious filling!

Mix up the filling while the crust is baking.

All the filling did fit in the crust – I was skeptical, but it all fit in!

All baked up and ready to chill.

I had some extra lemon zest leftover (and since I’m not one to waste anything) so after adding the topping, I sprinkled on some of the extra lemon zest.

Um, yeah. So this pie was absolutely delicious! The saltiness of the crust and the silky smoothness of the filling – absolute heaven. Just heaven. The whole family loved this pie. Grandma would have loved this pie (she did have a thing for lemon). My son has a good eye. He knows what he likes and he knows what we ALL like. Yeah – I’m just gonna go ahead and recommend that you all try this amazingly sweet, yet tart North Carolina Lemon Pie!

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Easter Blonde Brownies

Today’s recipe for Easter Blonde Brownies is the recipe for Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownies that I’ve made on the blog before – I just made it into a holiday treat! I mean, this recipe was from before the name for this type of  bars was Blondies. These bars are so different from brownies. My mom always made brownies when we were growing up, mainly because she has a chocolate problem, but these are more of almost a caramel flavor from the brown sugar. Oh my. This recipe is really, really, really good. I mean it. These are ANOTHER total red light food for me. I. Can’t. Stop. They. Are. So. Good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Easter Blonde Brownies

Sift together:

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add:

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I didn’t use nuts for this batch)

Mix well and set aside.

Melt:

1/3 cup butter

Add:

1 cup packed brown sugar

Cool.

Add:

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add flour mixture to the egg mixture a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Pour into 9″ x 9″ pan.

Sprinkle on Easter chocolate candies and sprinkles (or chocolate chips as in the recipe for Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownies).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Cool in pan.

This is a very easy recipe with minimal ingredients.

It does make a thick batter.

I used a little offset spatula to spread the batter in the pan.

I think this would be another fun one to try to put all kinds of candies on top of the bars: jelly beans, peanut butter cups, Peeps, etc.

What a festive and pretty holiday treat! I love making something ordinary into something more extraordinary by using holiday candies and sprinkles – it’s just so fun! Go crazy and try your own variation of these delicious – and very festive – Easter Blonde Brownies!

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Pistachio Torte

Today’s recipe for Pistachio Torte comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, who probably got it from someone she knew. This is a dessert perfect for springtime – very green and delicious. Springtime was so much fun at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, mainly because it seemed like we didn’t visit that much during the winter. I’m not sure if there was an actual reason for that, or if it was just because we live in Minnesota and whether you believe in climate change or not, we know that winters are NOT as bad now as they were back in the day. It seemed like the snow never went away in those days, and when spring finally did come, the windows were thrown open (no matter what the temperature) bringing in cold, fresh air to clear out the house. This happened both at the farm and at our house, and we found out when we took our trip to Sweden and Norway that cleaning like this is a cultural thing – not just a family thing. The need to do spring cleaning in this way are just those Scandinavian family traits coming through. We would go to the farm in the spring and everything was mud after the thaw of winter’s ice and snow, where green and growing things were coming up everywhere. It was just so nice to get out and be able to explore everything from the new baby pigs in the pen to the carp swimming in the fields flooded from winter’s snow dump to the green tips of who knows what kind of plants coming up in Grandma’s front garden. It was just fun to be outside in that cold, crisp, manure-scented, fresh not-in-the-house air.

On that note, let’s get back to this delicious Pistachio Torte. You’ll see as we go along that I have some thoughts on a way to change this recipe a bit – making it even more easy to make.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pistachio Torte

Crust:

Mix:

1 cup flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup butter

Press into a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Let cool.

1st Layer:

Mix together:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

8 ounces Cool Whip

2/3 cup powdered sugar

Spread half of this mixture on crust.

2nd Layer:

Mix together:

2 packages Jello Pistachio Instant Pudding

2 1/2 cups milk

Spread on top of crust and Cool Whip layer.

On top of the pudding, spread the rest of the Cool Whip mixture.

Can sprinkle nuts on top, if desired.

I just used my knuckles to press down the crust.

Next layer – half of the Cool Whip mixture. I think it would work better to make this layer the full amount of the Cool Whip mixture, and then just top the dessert with a layer of Cool Whip. The Cool Whip mixture is just barely enough to get spread over the whole crust.

Next layer is the pudding. I put it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to let it firm up. The rest of the Cool Whip mixture was hard to spread on the pudding – maybe because it condensed a bit when I took it out of the refrigerator and there was a thin film of moisture on top of it? I don’t know – that’s part of why I think it might be better to put the entire Cool Whip mixture in as the 2nd layer and then the pudding and then a layer of just Cool Whip on top.

Instead of topping the dessert with a sprinkling of chopped nuts, I used sprinkles and made it pretty and festive. I made this according to the recipe, but next time I would like to see how it goes to make the Cool Whip mixture just one layer. I have no doubt that either way, it would be just as delicious.

This makes such a pretty springtime dessert, not to mention that it’s absolutely delicious! It’s easy to do and it’s so good. This might be a nice and easy Easter dessert – hence the sprinkles. Some jelly beans on top or a Peeps chick or a bunny or two would be nice decorations and make it more festive for the holiday. I think you’d better make your family and friends happy, go ahead and celebrate spring, and make this Pistachio Torte.

 

 

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