Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Spice Bars

These Spice Bars are just about the perfect fall treat. They’re easy to make, smell like your favorite fall candle while they’re baking, and taste absolutely delicious. This recipe is another one from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks.

I saw this photo of what I think was one of Grandma’s (she’s right there in the middle with the big bow on her dress) Sunday School classes – or I guess it could have been a class in school – and I think about these girls (and boys) getting together for coffee or events as they grow up and have their own families. Most of the kids in the area where she grew up probably stayed there in the small town near their farm. Those girls probably used some of these same old church cookbooks while raising their families.

There would have always been Sunday dinners, christenings, baby showers, wedding showers, weddings, birthday parties, church events, etc. to use those recipes for. Today’s recipe just got me thinking about how perfect they would have been for all of those kinds of events, as well as afternoon coffee. All of the church cookbook recipes were perfect for new brides starting out on their cooking and baking lives. Even if the brides moved somewhere else with their grooms, I bet they took those cookbooks with them as a piece of home. Recipes can do that – bring you right back home.

I like that this recipe is a bit different from other bar recipes, in that they are baked on a baking sheet instead of a cake pan, and they’re cut in strips instead of squares. I guess you could cut them anyway you want to, but it’s a little different to have it written into the recipe. Let’s get these bars baked so we can have some with our afternoon coffee!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spice Bars

Blend together:

3/4 cup shortening (I used butter)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Add:

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add, beating well:

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together:

2 1/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Add alternatively with:

1/4 cup milk

Fold in:

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Pour batter into 7″ x 12″ baking sheet (I lightly sprayed the pan with non stick spray).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Frost while still warm with:

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (I would use real lemon juice next time)

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

1 1/4 Tablespoons milk (I used more than this – see below)

Cut in strips.

There are some pretty simple ingredients in this recipe, but because of all of the spices in there, it really does smell like a fall candle when they’re baking.

It takes some work to get all the batter spread on the pan. The recipe says to “pour the batter” into the pan, but this was definitely a thick batter. It’s more of a “spread it” kind of thing.

Oh man, this smells so good!

The frosting, or glaze, is also kind of thick, and while the lemon extract was delicious, I would use real lemon juice next time. I just like that flavor better.

Here you can see how thick the frosting was. It pulled up the top of the bars. They were still just as delicious, but even though I added about 2 extra tablespoons of milk, I would add more milk or lemon juice next time.

Because I lightly sprayed the pan with non stick spray, the bars came out very easily and I was able to take out the first whole row and cut them on the board. From then on I cut them in the pan.

These bars are so good and smell so good, the whole house smelled delicious – it smelled like Grandma and Grandpa’s house – it smelled like home. They’re spicy with the raisins and walnuts in them, and then to top it all off, they have that delicious lemony frosting or glaze on the top. That’s it – we can’t wait anymore – time for a cup of coffee and a Spice Bar!

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Nut Goodie Bars

These Nut Goodie Bars are ridiculous. I mean seriously ridiculous. I don’t remember where I originally got this recipe because it was written in my cookbook where you can write in your own recipes. My oven is waiting for a new igniter, so I needed to find something to make that doesn’t need an oven. This recipe is perfect for a hot summer afternoon. They’re a lot like Nut Goodie Candy – only better! After making these bars, I remember why I haven’t made them in years. Holy cow! The smell of the chocolate and peanut and maple – I have a problem. I have a real problem with these bars. Wow. I am not even kidding when I say that I could probably sit down with this pan and make quick work of it. Really. So sad. But true, unfortunately. You’ll see. You’ve been warned. Just you wait.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Nut Goodie Bars

Combine in a large microwaveable bowl:

12 ounce package of semi sweet chocolate chips

11 ounce package of butterscotch chips

8 ounces (1 cup) peanut butter

Melt in microwave for 1 minute and stir.

Microwave and stir again every 30 seconds until melted and smooth (this took me about 2 minutes total in my microwave).

Pour half of this mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil and spread it out to the edges.

Put pan into refrigerator to firm up while making the filling.

Add to other half of mixture:

16 ounce jar of dry roasted peanuts

Set aside.

Heat in saucepan:

1/2 cup milk

1 cup butter

1/4 cup regular vanilla pudding mix (use Jello Cook & Serve, not instant pudding)

1 teaspoon maple flavoring

Boil for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and add:

2 pounds powdered sugar

Mix, cool, and spread on top of first layer.

Refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Reheat other half of chocolate mixture in microwave (another 30 seconds).

Pour over second layer and spread.

Refrigerate 3 hours or so until firm.

Store in refrigerator.

Chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and peanut butter. Oh my.

Melt them all together and spread half of it on the parchment lined baking sheet.

Next, mix in the peanuts.

I put the pan into the refrigerator to firm up while I mixed the next ingredients. It worked well to spoon it on fairly evenly over the first chocolate layer.

Spread on the second layer.

I put the chocolate/peanut mixture into the microwave for 30 seconds and then spooned it fairly evenly over the second layer.

Spread out the third layer and into the refrigerator it goes. I swear – it must weigh about 5 pounds at this point!

When you line the pan with parchment, you can just lift out the whole thing and that makes it easier to cut. I’d cut the pieces small, too, if I were you. You get more out of the pan and it lasts longer.

Oh wow. This is a very decadent and delicious treat for a very special occasion.

I’m so glad my oven stopped working and I was able to revisit these bars. Well, I mean – I’m so glad I could bring some of these bars to my book club’s annual pool party – because if I didn’t bring these somewhere to someone else, they would all be mine, if you know what I mean. All mine. I might get sick, and I don’t care. I just can’t stop eating these. Remember – you’ve been warned! You’re going to love these Nut Goodie Bars as much as me – I promise!

 

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Date Bars

The recipe for these Date Bars is another one that comes from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house. There is just something about dates and nuts that reminds me of Grandma and her sisters and the old days. This photo is of Grandma and my mom before the wedding of one of Grandma’s brothers. It looks like it must have been about 1947 or so. My mom and her cousin were the flower girls and as usual, they were dressed alike.

The dresses were so pretty and look how cute my mom’s hairdo is! Love it!

I’m telling you – there is just something about the fragrance of dates and nuts baking . . . it almost makes me cry. It smells like Grandma!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Date Bars

Beat until thick:

2 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

Mix in:

2 heaping Tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1 package of chopped dates, floured (I used about 1 tablespoon for this)

3/4 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans but normally I would use walnuts in this)

Fold in:

2 egg whites, beaten

Pour batter into greased 8″ x 8″ pan. (There is no pan size given to use here, so I just guessed at it – something like a 7″ x 11″ would have worked better.)

Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

No time or temp was give, and I thought a slow oven was 325 degrees. I should have researched that a bit first as I have since found that it should have been 300 degrees. I also thought the first ingredients made it seem very dry, so I added an extra egg yolk and egg white. After the bars were baked, that made them VERY tender, and they seemed to fall apart easily. Adding the extra egg wasn’t necessary. I should have known better. Just follow the original recipe.

This is why I thought this needed an extra egg. It said to beat them until thick, but it was very dry.

I used about 1 tablespoon of flour into the chopped dates. Mix them up and they won’t sink to the bottom of the bars.

Here is how dry the batter looked with the dates and nuts mixed in. Next is folding in the egg whites. Everything did mix in just fine.

Before and after baking – the bars rose up and smelled heavenly.

I’m not sure why, but this is what happened after cooling. I maybe could have used a bigger pan, but the bars would have been a bit thin.

These bars are very tasty, even thought they were a bit weird to make.

They’re chewy, sticky, and full of dates and nuts. Yum. This recipe is a good old-fashioned one that is fairly easy to make and is absolutely delicious. Try this recipe for Date Bars out on your friends and family – they’ll love it!

 

 

 

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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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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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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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Lucy’s Caramel Bars

Today’s recipe is for Lucy’s Caramel Bars – perfect for fall. This is Grandma’s recipe, written for one of her sisters, but came from the recipes of a different sister. Doesn’t surprise me a bit. Grandma and her sisters shared and exchanged recipes all the time. I have several recipes where I have the same recipe written by each sister – in her own handwriting! It’s so much fun to have them. Apparently they all had similar food likes. I wonder if Lucy was someone they knew, or just the name of the recipe. I guess we’ll never know. These bars are caramely and nutty and absolutely delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lucy’s Caramel Bars

Mix together:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups oatmeal

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

Save 1 cup mixture for topping.

Spread rest in 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Heat in sauce pan until melted:

1 14 ounce package of Kraft Caramels (they come in 11 ounce packages now, so I bought two and used my scale to measure out 14 ounces)

9 Tablespoons cream (grandma noted that she used half-n-half, but I used 2% milk and it was fine)

Let it cool a bit.

Add:

1 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Spread over top of baked crust.

Sprinkle on reserved 1 cup of crust crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes more or until browned.

After you have the crust in the pan and baked, it’s time for the luscious caramel sauce. Pour it on!

Top the caramel with the topping mixture and into the oven it goes.

I love caramel anything, and these bars are a great way to get your caramel fix.

Try these delicious, caramely, nutty bars. They’re great for afternoon coffee, snack time, or to bring to your next fall gathering. Everyone is going to love these Lucy’s Caramel Bars!

 

 

 

 

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Lem-O-Nut Bars

Lem-O-Nut Bars is a weird name, I know, and this recipe looks like one of the really old ones as you can see by the fountain pen used to write it out. This one comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and it’s so delicious, I could hardly believe it. It has all the usual and simple ingredients, but they come out so good and chewy, you can really taste the bit of lemon and lemon rind in them.

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lem-o-nut-bars-2

These are so good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lem-O-Nut Bars

Mix:

2 cups flour, sifted

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Press into bottom of a greased 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Mix:

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir in:

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Spread over crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Top will be lightly browned.

Cut into bars when cool.

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The bottom crust partially bakes first.

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Then on goes the topping.

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It doesn’t look like much when it’s done, but man are these good!

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These are thin, but packed with flavor.

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Here is another treat just perfect for afternoon coffee or tea. Lem-O-Nut Bars are tasty and very quick and easy to make. Yes. Just perfect.

 

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Pineapple Bars

Yesterday would have been Grandma’s 104th birthday, and today’s recipe for Pineapple Bars is totally something she would have liked – it’s one of the easiest recipes yet. Because it was her birthday, I’m sharing this photo of her. I love this one so much – I love her haircut, I love her shift dress, and I love her shoes! This must have been taken sometime during the 1920’s, and it looks like a lovely spring or summer day.

Maybe this was a special occasion, I don’t know, but this is just such a sweet picture of her.

Today’s recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and I think this was mis-labeled because there is no lemon in this recipe. Therefore, I’m renamed this one Pineapple Bars.

These bars are ridiculously easy and ridiculously good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pineapple Bars

Beat slightly:

2 eggs

Add:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, with juice

Mix until combined.

Put into a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Cool.

Frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Frost.

Before and after baking, you can see the pineapple in there – these bars are loaded!

It doesn’t seem to be enough frosting, but it’s a nice thin layer – just right.

You can still see the pieces of pineapple in the bars – it keeps them very moist and delicious.

This may be one of the easiest recipes I’ve made on this blog. All you do is mix all the ingredients, bake, and enjoy these tasty little treats loaded full of pineapple nuggets. They do get thick, and seemed more like a cake than bars, but how bad can that be? Try these Pineapple Bars – I know Grandma would have loved them, and I know your friends and family will love them, too!

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Dream Bars

This recipe for Chocolate Chip Dream Bars comes from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks,  and I must say that it looks like it was a well used one! This is my mom’s writing that says she first made it in June of 1971, and that made me think of the old days, so I have to share a photo from the old days. This one goes back a bit farther than 1971, but it’s a good one. This is Grandma and Grandpa with my mom and her brother. By the looks of it, they must have just gotten a new car – and they’re darn proud of it!!

This is just so great – I love it! There’s my mom, being all prim and proper, and if you look close, you can see that my uncle is sticking his tongue out! Haha! Love it! This time period, the 1940’s, was the heyday of the church cookbook, and I still say – they’re just the BEST recipes! This one is no exception. You’ve been warned!

Oh wow – these are SO good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Chip Dream Bars

Mix together:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

Pat into 9″ x 9″ square pan (I didn’t have the size loaf pan they suggest here).

Bake in 325 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Combine:

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)

Mix well and spread on top of first mixture.

Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

I just used my hand to pat down the crust.

Then just mix up the next ingredients.

Spread the second mixture on top of the crust, or first mixture, and sprinkle on the chocolate chips.

These bars are so delicious – another perfect treat to have with your afternoon coffee or tea.

I’m just glad this recipe doesn’t make a bigger batch – it’s a nice small batch in a nice small pan. I guess I could double it, if I wanted a whole cake pan full of bars. Then I’d just have to eat all of them, because nobody else can have any. None. Hmmmm. It might not be a bad idea to make a double batch of these Chocolate Chip Dream Bars!

 

 

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