Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Meringues

I found this recipe for Brown Sugar Meringues just this year in an old Christmas cookbook called Cooking For Christmas. I was looking for some treats to make that I could have (since I am STILL dealing with pancreatitis) that didn’t have much fat. I was looking through this cookbook and found this one that was just egg whites and sugar. No fat. These were amazing! They’re delicious and pretty and I thought, hey, why can’t I make these all year round? You can decorate them according to the season, and add all kinds of other goodies like dried fruit or nuts. So I sprinkled on some red sugar and a few pearl sugar balls and there you go – a special treat for Valentine’s Day!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Brown Sugar Meringues

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put into a medium bowl:

4 egg whites

Beat until soft peaks form.

Gradually beat in:

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

Beat until stiff and glossy.

Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

Pipe onto lined baking sheets (you can also just use a spoon to form mounds of the mixture).

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meringues are firm and dry.

Carefully peel off paper and store at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

(The recipe above has the added goodness of making a sandwich of the cookies with whipped cream – I didn’t do that here, but you would need to serve immediately if wanting to serve them this way.)

I have shared a lot of photos in this post, but I wanted to sort of show the progression of the egg whites. The first one is just getting started. The second one is my interpretation of the soft peaks.

Next the sugar is added a little at a time. Last is my interpretation of stiff and glossy. These maybe could have been a bit stiffer.

My piping bags are on the small side, so I had to add more of the mixture 3 times. You can also just use a spoon to make mounds of the mixture.

Now is the time to decorate, if you want to.

Here they are, out of the oven after 1 1/2 hours. I had the Christmas ones in the oven for 2 hours, but I don’t think it was necessary. You’ll have to see how your oven works and if they’re dry and ready the way you want them, go ahead and take them out.

They are so pretty!

These would make a special treat for any time of year. How about these for a nice hostess gift? You could even add a little drizzle of chocolate for an even more special gift for your valentine. These are definitely NOT hard to make and they’re delicious! Try these Brown Sugar Meringues next time you need a special treat!

 

 

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Almond Bars

This recipe for Almond Bars comes from Grandma’s church cookbook, and is one that I made years ago. My oldest daughter played volleyball and her club would hold an annual spaghetti dinner for a fundraiser. each family was supposed to bring a couple of pans of bars for the dessert table, and this was one of the recipes I tried and brought for that. I have said this before – about a hundred times – and I’ll say it again – those old church cookbooks are the BEST. Everyone would donate their absolute BEST recipes, so ALL the recipes in those books are the BEST. I have yet to find a bad one in any of the ones I’ve tried. Grandma spent a lot of time to try and figure out which recipes to add to the church cookbook. It was a BIG deal. I think I have at least 20 of Grandma’s old church cookbooks from all of the churches in town, and I love them all. Selling those boos were great fundraisers for the ladies groups, too.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Almond Bars

For the Crust:

Mix together:

3/4 cup butter or margarine (I used butter)

1 1/2 cups flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

Press into 9″ x 12″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

For the Filling:

6 eggs, beaten

2 cups sugar

2 cups coconut

1 Tablespoon almond extract

Pour over baked crust.

Topped with 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

This is how I pressed the crust dough into the pan. This pan was an inch smaller in each direction than what the recipe called for.

The filling is nice and thick with all the coconut. I added the sliced almonds on top – just ‘cuz.

These bars smell amazing when they’re in the oven. Must be the almond extract.

Delicious. I mean – absolutely delicious. Grandma had a “thing” for anything almond, since she was Swedish. I know she would have loved these Almond Bars – you will, too!!

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Ginger Cookies #3

It’s a cold and snowy day here in Minnesota, which means it’s a perfect day to make Ginger Cookies #3. This is another recipe from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house, and #3 in the line of ginger cookies made for Plenty Sweet Life. There’s nothing better than coming in from playing in the snow (no matter what your age), having the scent of those spices hit your nose as you come into the warm and cozy house from the cold outdoors, and having a lovely ginger cookie with your cup of hot chocolate. There is something very comforting about that. Growing up in this state of snow and ice, you learn to love all outdoor activities available in the winter: skating, skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and many others. My sister and I could never get enough of that cold weather fun when we were kids. It’s time to bring that back and start enjoying the cold weather fun again!

Note that there isn’t any baking temperature or time for these.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Ginger Cookies #3

Combine:

3/4 cup Crisco (I used butter)

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons each of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves

Chill one hour.

Roll into balls, roll in sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (this is what worked for my oven).

I used my trusty scoop to make these (even though chilling the dough for an hour made the dough hard to scoop), roll them into balls, and into a bowl of sugar.

That sugar gives them a sugary crust after baking.

This is a very spicy cookie with great flavor – perfect for your afternoon coffee.

These cookies stayed the shape of a nice little tea cookie, they didn’t get a good crackle like some of the other ginger cookies have, but they are delicious without the crackle. Make a batch of these and then head out to play in the snow! You’ll have these beautiful little Ginger Cookies #3 waiting for you when you come back into your warm and cozy house.

 

 

 

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Tomato Soup Cake

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

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

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

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tomato Soup Cake

Combine:

1 cup sugar

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

2 eggs

1 can tomato soup

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

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup dates or raisins (I used raisins)

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

Pour into 9″ x 9″ cake pan.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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German Lebkuchen

This is a fairly new recipe for my family. Even though I am German on my other grandma’s side, I just started making this a few years ago. These German Lebkuchen have become one of my family’s favorites. They’re so amazingly spicy and delicious! The recipe comes from the old series of cookbooks that my mom has had for years called, Better Homes and Gardens Creative Cooking Library, and the book is “Birthdays and Family Celebrations”. As you can see by the notes I put on the recipe, we liked it!

german-lebkuchen

This is one of those recipes you can do early in the season because the cookies are tastier the longer they sit!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

German Lebkuchen

Beat:

1 egg

Add:

3/4 cup brown sugar

Beat until fluffy.

Stir in:

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup molasses

Sift together:

3 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoons allspice

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Stir in:

1/2 cup mixed candied fruits and peels, diced (some of my family aren’t fond of the peels, so I just used red and green cherries this time)

1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds

Chill several hours or overnight.

Roll 1/4″ thick on floured surface.

Cut into 3 1/2″ x 2″ rectangles.

Bake on greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Cool slightly before removing from pan.

While warm, spread with lemon glaze.

Cool before storing.

Lemon Glaze:

Combine:

1 slightly beaten egg white

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Dash of salt

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This isn’t a very difficult recipe, it’s just hard to mix up because it’s such a stiff dough.

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Mix the sticky mixture into the dry mixture – it’s easier to mix and not so sticky. If you try to do it the other way around, the sticky part really sticks to the bowl and it’s VERY hard to mix. I figured out to put the sticky into the dry and it made all the difference – it’s so much easier to do it that way.

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I mixed the fruit and nuts into it at the same time as you mix the sticky and dry ingredients together. The dough is so stiff, it really gets hard to stir.

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I bring the dough together and then wrap it in plastic wrap to chill.

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I found it easiest to roll out the dough, cut it into rectangles with a pizza cutter, and then lift the cookies off of my counter with a spatula to get them onto the baking sheet.

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Put the glaze on when the cookies are still warm.

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I put the cookies onto the cooling rack and then spooned on the lemon glaze.

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There it is – the german part of our Christmas celebration!

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These cookies are so spicy and delicious with the lemon glaze on them, that I feel they are almost the quintessential Christmas cookie. Start early so they have time for the flavors to meld. They make the house smell so good – you’ll know it’s time for Christmas. Make these German Lebkuchen and get ready for the holiday!

 

 

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Cherry Walnut Bars

Today’s recipe for Cherry Walnut Bars is one that Grandma started making in the 1960’s, and someone in our family has been making them ever since. My mom started making them, they became a favorite of the family, and now my sister makes them every year – they’re one of her favorites. I love them, too, but I just got away from making them. I’m glad I found this recipe again! The recipe originally comes from an old cookbook of Grandma’s called the Farm Journal’s Christmas Book, copyright 1966. She used that book a lot because there are a lot of recipes in there that have her notes on them. I love that and I’m so glad we have those notes in her handwriting!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cherry Walnut Bars

Mix together until crumbly:

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup butter, softened

Press into 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned.

Blend:

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Stir into egg-sugar mixture:

1 (2 oz.) jar maraschino cherries, drained and chopped, reserving liquid

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Place on top of baked crust.

Return to oven and bake 25 minutes.

Cool.

Combine:

1 Tablespoon butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

Enough cherry liquid to make frosting spreadable.

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut, if you wish.

These bars have a very tender crust, a candy-like topping, and a very cherry tasting frosting.

With a sprinkling of coconut on top, they look like they’ve just been touched with a light dusting of snow! These bars are almost more like a candy instead of a cookie or bar, so I’d cut them into a smaller size. I know you’re going to love these Cherry Walnut Bars as much as me – and my sister!

 

 

 

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Soldier’s Fudge

The recipe for today is called Soldier’s Fudge, and comes from a cookbook called “Betty Crocker’s Cooking American Style – A Sampler of Heritage Recipes”. My sister gave it to me for Christmas in 1978 and the price on the front cover is $2.95!!!!! Ha! She was a big spender back then! I love that cookbook and I’ve made many of the recipes in there over the years. This is the easiest fudge recipe on the planet, and I would assume, since it’s called Soldier’s Fudge, that it also travels well or ships well.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Soldier’s Fudge

Butter baking pan 8″ x 8″ x 2″.

Heat together in 2 quart saucepan over low heat:

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate (optional – I didn’t use it in this batch)

Stir constantly until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in:

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (optional – I didn’t put nuts in this batch since we have people in our family who don’t appreciate them)

Spread mixture evenly in pan.

Refrigerate until firm.

Cut into 1 inch squares.

This is seriously the EASIEST recipe for fudge. Just put it all in the pan, melt the chocolate, add the vanilla (and nuts, if you want), and stir until smooth.

I noticed that while the fudge felt firm, it was still a bit soft underneath. Make sure to give it plenty of time in the refrigerator to chill and firm up.

You can also add sprinkles and/or decorations after spreading the fudge in the pan. They really make it so festive and pretty. With so many things to get done this time of year, you really should try this incredibly easy to make, creamy, delicious Soldier’s Fudge – you’ll love it!

 

 

 

 

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Frosted Ginger Creams

The recipe for today is Frosted Ginger Creams and comes from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. It’s sounds like it’s supposed to be a bar, but this batch got higher, like cake. Regardless, the smell of these bars/cake baking will get you in the Christmas spirit – the scent of the spices and molasses – heaven!

If you’ve noticed the lack of posts again, I had another bout of pancreatitis and hospital stay the week  before Thanksgiving. Yes – I was actually on a feeding tube for Thanksgiving. My family stepped up and took on the meal duties while I seriously tried very hard not to curl up in the fetal position in a corner somewhere. That was a rough one.  Hopefully I’m finally on the road to recovery. This is taking waaaaay too long in my opinion, but Ebenezer (that’s what we’ve named my carmudgeon-ly pancreas – he does get better in the end) is really trying very hard to get better and stop giving me pain.

Anyhoo – back to posting. I realized that I haven’t shared an old photo in a while, so here’s one from my first Christmas. This was spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm where we were living at the time because my dad was stationed in Turkey in the Army.

I love how they thought I wouldn’t leave the tree alone, so it was put up on a table. Obviously they forgot to put the presents up and out-of-the-way!

This is another of my new favorites! You can see the “Good” connotation again here!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Frosted Ginger Creams

Cream together:

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

Add:

2 eggs

Beat.

Add:

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup molasses

Mix well.

Mix together:

1 cup hot coffee

1 teaspoon baking soda

Add coffee/soda to first mixture alternately with:

2 cups flour

Stir in:

1 cup chopped raisins or dates

Pour into 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The batter is pretty straightforward for this one, as is the frosting.

Make sure that if you’re going to make them pretty with sprinkles, you need to put them on right away or the frosting will be too dry and they won’t stick.

Perfect with a cup of coffee!!

So festive, so pretty, so fragrant, so good!! This was another great recipe from one of those old church cookbooks! They just don’t get any better. Try these Frosted Ginger Creams, let the spices and molasses waft through your house during the baking process, and get in the Christmas spirit!

 

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White Chocolate Dipped Pumpkin Spice Cookies

This recipe for White Chocolate Dipped Pumpkin Spice Cookies really is no recipe at all. I saw the cookies in the store and had an idea for an incredibly easy Thanksgiving treat. I have to keep things simple after my surgery – the strength and stamina are NOT coming back the way I’d like them to – so this one is perfect. It’s a no brainer that’s just right for sending to college students (or my nieces), great for an unusual hostess gift, or just for snacking on while the turkey cooks away in the oven.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

White Chocolate Dipped Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Melt according to the manufacturers instructions:

1 package of white chocolate chips or 1 package of white almond bark (I used almond bark for these)

Dip the pumpkin spice cookies (there are several brands making them now) into melted chocolate.

Lay cookies on baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Sprinkle on fall colored sprinkles of your choice before the chocolate dries.

Let dry.

Done.

I melted the almond bark in an old mixing bowl from my mom’s old mixer. It’s the perfect shape for dipping and I have used it for dipping my Christmas candies for years. It’s glass, but it’s old and the glass gets warm and keeps the chocolate melted – it doesn’t cool down too fast. I love it.

There really isn’t anything to say – these are just too simple to make!

I love the non-perils in these fall colors – so cute! These are adorable and delicious and festive as all get-out. Make up a batch (or two or three) of these White Chocolate Dipped Pumpkin Spice Cookies so you’ll have plenty for all your holiday needs!

 

 

 

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My 4 Favorite Thanksgiving Desserts

Today’s post is about My 4 Favorite Thanksgiving Desserts. My last post was about my favorite pies, and since we don’t ALWAYS have to have pie for Thanksgiving, I thought I should also show you my favorite desserts appropriate for Thanksgiving. Again – I hope you can find one perfect for your Thanksgiving dessert table.

Apple Cake with Butter Sauce

Pumpkin Pie Dessert

Autumn Gold Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Dessert

 

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