Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

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.


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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Rhubarb Bars

I can’t believe it! It’s finally here! Rhubarb season! Time to make the first recipe of the season – Rhubarb Bars. My plants are as big as they’ve ever been, and while I know I say that every year – this time I mean it!

Rhubarb is one of those things that my grandmas used to help them survive the Great Depression. They planted rhubarb, and while it still took some sugar to bake with it and to eat, it was a fruit they grew themselves and it was free – they didn’t have to use their limited resources to buy it. I’m sure friends and family gave each other parts of the plants they grew – just like sharing perennials – so they didn’t originally have to BUY the plants. That’s probably why Grandma and her sisters had so many recipes for delicious treats like Rhubarb Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Rhubarb Bread, Rhubarb Muffins, Rhubarb Cream Delight, Rhubarb Crunch, Rhubarb Crunch #2Orange Rhubarb Pie, Rhubarb Jam, Rhubarb Torte, and Rhubarb Sauce. When I planted my first rhubarb plant many years ago, I did buy it because neither grandma or my mom still had rhubarb for me to get a piece of. I put it on the south side of our garage and it grew pretty well, but only had pencil sized stalks. I was telling Grandpa about it and he told me to pick almost all of it before it froze in the fall, so it had to grow new stalks every year. Well, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the old farmer knew what he was talking about – it’s grown bigger every year (I’ve since split it into two clumps and even given some pieces to friends) and this year the stalks are about an inch wide. This is so exciting! More rhubarb to make more recipes! Let’s get started.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Bars

In a saucepan, dissolve in 1/4 cup water:

2 Tablespoons corn starch

Mix in:

3 cups cut-up rhubarb

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook until thick.


Mix together until crumbly:

1 1/2 cup oatmeal

1 1/2 cup flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup shortening (I used butter)

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

Pat 3/4 of this mixture into 9″ x 13″ pan.

Pour in the cooled rhubarb mixture.

Top with remaining crumbs.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

I didn’t press the crust in too hard, just patted it in. Next goes on the delicious and jammy filling, which seemed like it didn’t thicken up enough, but was just fine in the end. I almost would have suggested an extra tablespoon of corn starch because of that, but I soon realized why it wasn’t necessary. After baking, we couldn’t wait to try the bars. We cut them while they were still warm and they were really crumbly and soft. My advice – WAIT until they’re totally cool and they’ll be more like a bar and easier to cut.

This is before and after baking. These are almost like a jam bar with that filling in there.

Oh wow – these smell so delicious while they’re baking – and aren’t they pretty?!!

Get out to your garden and start picking those beautiful stalks of rhubarb. Then start your rhubarb baking and try these bars. They’re so delicious – just like Grandma used to make! You’re going to love these Rhubarb Bars!








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Carrot Bars

This recipe for Carrot Bars is another one that Grandma cut out of the newspaper, and like I’ve said before – it has to be a good one because she didn’t do that too often. These bars are very similar in flavor to Carrot Cake, and are going under the heading of Retro Oddities, if only because of the use of baby food carrots. I have to go on a bit of a rant here, and at the risk of sounding like an old fogey, let me just say that I don’t like the fact that all baby food is now packaged in plastic. I would rather still see the glass jars with a lid – which is WAAAAY easier to open than these foil tops you have to peel off. It took longer to get the top off of the baby food than it took to mix up the bars!! I digress. Using carrots sounds like a treat just right for springtime. Let’s try these slightly strange bars and see what happens.

Note the V Good connotation again on this one! I may have to try the Lemon Bars at a later date – it was cut off here but I do have the rest of that recipe!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Carrot Bars

Combine all ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup oil (I used canola)

2 (4 1/2 oz.) jars strained carrot baby food (now the containers are 4 oz.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 oz. cream cheese (they used to have small packages of cream cheese this size, but now I just use the measurements on the side of the 8 oz. cream cheese to measure this out)

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together and spread on bars.

You can see in the above paragraph that I’m not a big fan of this kind of baby food container. It’s just silly. Ok. I’m done. Also – these come in 4 oz. containers now, not 4 1/2 oz., but it didn’t seem to make much difference.

You can just mix everything up together, but I did do the liquids together first and then added the sifted dry ingredients.

This recipe is so easy to do and is beautiful before AND after baking.

How can you go wrong with cream cheese frosting? Delicious.

The frosting looked like a pretty small batch, but it did cover the whole pan.

The smell of these bars baking really made me think of Grandma. It’s funny that it’s the smell of things that makes me the most nostalgic. Baking can bring me back to specific people and places in a heartbeat.

They are calling these “bars”, but they really taste like carrot cake, and while I do make Carrot Cake, bars are much more portable and easy to eat. These Carrot Bars are so mouth-watering and quick to make and delicious – perfect for springtime – or anytime!



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Chocolate Fudge Squares

I decided to try another recipe from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house, and I thought I’d make it more of a holiday thing. I like candies and sprinkles as much as the next gal, so I went for it with these bars. Trust me – your valentine is gonna love these. Chocolate Fudge Squares sounds like more of a fudgy bar, or even a candy, right? Nope. These are basically brownies. Maybe there were too many brownie recipes in the tiny book, I don’t know. But let’s call them what they are. These are brownies. They’re just very festive brownies – at least the way I made them in this batch.


These bars did NOT end up being fudgy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Fudge Squares

Sift together 3 times:

3/4 cup pastry flour (I used regular all-purpose flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt


2 squares baking chocolate


1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)


Combine with the chocolate mixture:

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, well beaten

Beat thoroughly.


Flour mixture

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup nuts, chopped

Pour into 8″ x 8″ pan (it says to put it into 2 pans, but I think that’s a typo).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


There are a few steps to these bars (as with brownies), but it doesn’t take long to do. First sift the dry ingredients, then beat the eggs and melt the chocolate and butter.


Combine the chocolate/butter mixture with the sugar and eggs, then add the flour mixture.


This isn’t on the recipe, but I added holiday candies and sprinkles.


Full disclosure – I happened to peek into the oven with about 10 minutes left to bake. The candies had sunk to the bottom – I couldn’t see any of them – so I added another 1/2 cup or so to the top and it was firm enough so they didn’t sink this time. Next time I’d wait to add the candies until there is about 10 minutes left to bake.


They turned out so pretty and very festive!


These aren’t really a fudge type bar – they’re more like a brownie – but they’re delicious. You can make them holiday specific with candies, or sprinkles, or chocolate chips, or nuts – whatever you want to put on them. Make a batch for your valentine!







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Pecan Pie Bars

Since this is one of the big weeks for getting together with families, I have to share this photo of Grandma and Grandpa and one of Grandma’s sisters and her husband. Grandma and her sisters were together for gatherings a lot, even after they were married, and it didn’t have to be for holidays. They got together a lot for Sunday suppers, too. They always seemed to have so much fun together. This sister was exactly 2 years older than Grandma – their birthdays were on the same day!


I just love the dresses on the ladies here, and the men are looking dapper! So cute!

The sisters were always exchanging recipes and they all liked their sweets. Today’s recipe comes from one of grandma’s sisters. This is a great recipe if you love pecan pie, but want something smaller that still tastes like a pecan pie in a bite. These Pecan Pie Bars are still “plenty sweet”, but not quite as rich as a whole piece of actual pecan pie. This would be a nice addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table, where you may already have several pies and where you need something just a little bit different. I love pecan pie, but sometimes after a HUGE Thanksgiving dinner and having to decide which of the several pies to have, I think this little bite of heaven would be just right.



These bars are so delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pecan Pie Bars

For crust:

Mix together:

1 yellow cake mix (reserving 2/3 cup for filling)

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 egg

Press into greased 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

For filling:

Mix together in large bowl with mixer:

2/3 cup reserved cake mix

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

Pour onto baked crust.

Top with:

1 cup pecans, chopped

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


I used a small offset spatula to spread the crust in the pan. It doesn’t seem like there’s enough batter to cover the bottom, but there is. It’s not a thick crust.


Ah, pecans. How I love them.


After baking the crust, on go the goodies!


First pour on the filling and then sprinkle on the chopped pecans. I didn’t think it looked like enough pecans, but it was just right.


Wow. After baking it turns a caramel brown color and smells divine. The recipe doesn’t say to grease the pan, but I gave it a squirt of non-stick spray. I would grease it even more next time. The filling stuck around the edges after baking.




These bars are so gooey and so good. You need to add these to your desserts – not just at Thanksgiving time – any time. They’re easy to make and absolutely delicious, like all of the recipes I’ve tried that come from Grandma and her sisters.


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Mud Hen Bars

The recipe for today is kind of funny, so I thought we needed a funny photo, too. This is a photo of me with my dad and a couple of ducks he shot during hunting season. I look like I’m about 2 here, and I sure seem to be enjoying the dead duck. Ha! I seem to vaguely remember something about these particular ducks being special in some way, therefore the picture of them, but I can’t remember why.


The funny recipe today goes by the name of Mud Hen Bars, possibly named after mud hens, which are ducks that are plentiful around our area in the fall. This time of year, there were always rafts of hundreds of mud hens – or coots – on the lake where I grew up. I remember that we made these bars a lot during hunting season. Sometimes I don’t think it was the shooting as much as being outdoors for my dad. And the food. He would go deer hunting or goose hunting with his friends, and there would always be pictures taken of the food. Maybe it was because back then, the men didn’t cook all that much. They sure seemed to be proud of it when they did. I don’t seem to remember that many photos of the ducks or deer they bagged. Hmmm.

Here is a photo of real mud hens that I took on the way to my mom’s house yesterday. Just so you know that they are a real kind of duck.


This is just a bit blurry because they were wiggling their little behinds to get away from me. They didn’t fly away from me . . .


but these guys did!! To me, this is a classic picture of fall in Minnesota!



These bars are ridiculously delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Mud Hen Bars

Cream together:

1/2 cup shortening – half butter (I used all butter)

1 cup sugar


1 whole egg and 2 egg yolk – reserve whites (on the ingredient list above it says 2 eggs, but you actually need 3)


Sift dry ingredients together:

1 1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Add to first mixture and mix well.

Spread in 9″ x 13″ pan.

Spread over batter:

1 cup nuts, chopped

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 cup miniature marshmallows


the remaining 2 egg whites

1 cup brown sugar

Spread over top of all.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.


This really is an easy recipe. Make the crust, just sprinkle on the goodies, and pour on the top.


They look kind of funny after baking, but looks can be deceiving!!


The crust is kind of cake-y and then there are the goodies in the middle and last is the meringue-like topping.


Oh my. I’m not sure why these are named after a duck, but who cares?!! These are so good. I mean, really, SOOOOO GOOD! Don’t wait for hunting season to make these – you should make them all the time!!


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Brownies #2


For some reason, this time of year I remember the smell of Brownies baking in the oven at our house. I seem to remember this mostly on Saturday afternoons when I was growing up, the scent of chocolate wafting through the house, driving me crazy until they would be done and we could indulge in the warm, gooey, chocolatey deliciousness that is the Brownie. Obviously this was before our family got hooked on Chocolate Chip Cookies and other baked goods containing chocolate. If you read this blog regularly, you know that my mom is famous for her love of chocolate, and nothing but chocolate. I’m sure that her little issue has something to do with this memory I have of chocolate in the air every weekend! (Ha! Thanks, Mom!) This recipe does come from my mom, and is very similar to a recipe I’ve posted on here called Brownies. It’s not exactly like this recipe, but they are close. This one obviously has to be Brownies #2 because there is more than one brownie recipe card. This is a tried and true classic recipe and it’s absolutely delicious. These brownies are chocolatey and full of walnuts – exactly what you want when you need chocolate. They would make a nice addition to a school lunch, be a great after school snack, or make an extra special treat for someone who deserves one.


Wow, are these good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Brownies #2


1 cup shortening (I used butter)

3 squares unsweetened chocolate


Add gradually:

2 cups sugar to

3 beaten eggs

Combine with chocolate mixture.


1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup walnuts

Spread batter in a 9″ x 13″ pan (I lightly spray with cooking spray).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


These brownies are loaded with delicious chopped walnuts. Nuts are so good for you, these brownies must be good for you, right?


Even though there are several steps in making this recipe, it goes pretty fast to make these.


After adding the dry ingredients, they’re almost done.


It makes a nice, thick batter that looks good enough to eat!


Brownies are such a great, classic treat. Your kids will love them. You’ll love them. Your whole family will love them. Your friends will love them. Everyone will love them. My mom loves them. Make a pan of these delicious chocolate goodies for someone special today. Is it snack time yet?




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Lemon Love Notes


I first made these Lemon Love Notes when my oldest daughter played volleyball. The volleyball club would hold a spaghetti dinner fundraiser every year, and each family had to contribute a couple of pans of bars as part of the dinner. This was one of the bars I made, found in what cookbook? Grandma’s church cookbook. That’s where I looked, because that’s where there are the best tried and true recipes. Well, the rest is history. I have made these ever since and they’re the favorite of the two lemon lovers in the family, and pretty much everyone else, too.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Love Notes


Mix as for pie crust:

1 cup flour

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup butter

Pat into a 8″ x 8″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


Mix rest of ingredients:

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 1/2 teaspoon flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 lemon rind, grated

Pour over crust and bake again for 25 minutes.



3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon milk

1 Tablespoon butter, softened

Spread topping over bars.

Cut into squares.


The crust seems weird and very dry, but it works.


There’s nothing like the smell of fresh lemon.


After baking the crust, pour on the filling and back into the oven.


The top looks a bit strange right out of the oven, but the frosting will cover that right up.


I love these bars as much as the lemon lovers in the family. The frosting on top is so good!


The crust seriously just melts in your mouth, the filling is lemony and tangy, and it’s all topped off with that sweet and creamy frosting. These bars are so easy to make and they are delicious. Period. Lemon lover or not, you’re gonna love these!






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Special K Bars or Rice Krispie Bars

I have a real problem with the recipe for today. Special K bars have always been a total red light food for me. I don’t even think I should have made these, but oh well, I have to make all the recipes. This recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and it’s just a little bit different from the usual recipe for Special K Bars. These Special K Bars or Rice Krispie Bars have a couple of different ingredients added that makes them extra special. These are ridiculously easy to make, unfortunately for me. If I ever DID make Special K Bars growing up (and I couldn’t make them often because I just couldn’t stay away from them) it was during the summer. The smell of melting chocolate and butterscotch chips can just bring back those summer days at the lake back in a second! There’s something about that smell. Oh man. So good. I. Can. Not. Stop.

Special K or Rice Krispies Bars

Lord help me, I doubled this recipe!!!!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Special K or Rice Krispie Bars

Combine in a saucepan:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup white syrup

Bring to a boil.

Remove from heat.


1/2 cup salted peanuts

3/4 cup peanut butter

Mix in:

3 cups cereal (I used Rice Krispies)

1/2 cup coconut

For Frosting:


1/2 package chocolate chips

1 package butterscotch chips

Mix and spread on top of bars.

Let frosting harden before cutting into squares.

Of course this batch didn’t look like very much to me, so I decided to double it and put them in a 9″ x 13″ pan. I used 1 package of chocolate chips and 1 package of butterscotch chips and there was plenty of frosting.


The two special ingredients – salted peanuts and coconut.


This was still so much frosting, and that makes it even MORE difficult for me to leave these alone!


I put the pan into the refrigerator to harden the chocolate. Make sure if you do this, you wait 5-10 minutes after taking it out to let it come to room temperature so the chocolate doesn’t crack. These did crack just a little bit.


Oh boy. Help me.


Luckily, these bars are already gone, and let me tell you, it may well be another 10 years or so before I will even attempt to make these again. I just can’t do it. They’re so easy to make and so addicting (for me, anyway) and so amazingly good and so peanutty and so chewy and so butterscotchy and so crispy and . . . aaagghhh!!!!!


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Butterscotch Squares

These bars are, again, from the tiny book we found at my sister’s house last January. It’s amazing that all of the recipes I’ve made from that cute little book have been just great. All of the recipes in that book came from ladies who probably needed a lot of recipes for church functions, family gatherings, and afternoon coffee. These recipes have all been perfect for making when you’re having people over. This one has turned out to be one of my husband’s favorites, and he likes them best with afternoon coffee. I don’t blame him. These Butterscotch Squares are easy to make, and they’re very good.


These bars are absolutely delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Butterscotch Squares

Bring to a boil:

1/2 cup butter

2 cups brown sugar

Mix in:

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup nuts, chopped or 1 cup dates, chopped (I happened to have 1/2 cup of dates left from something else, so I added them plus 1/2 cup of walnuts)

I put the batter in a 9″ x 12″ pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes.


Again, these bars are so simple to make.


Before and after baking – yum.


Another treat just right with afternoon coffee.


These bars are chewy and delicious – butterscotch, but with a bit of a caramel flavor.


Bake a batch of these bars and call your friends or family to come on over for the afternoon. Then brew up a big pot of coffee to have with the bars, and make sure to keep at least one for yourself. I had to hide mine in the freezer – I wasn’t kidding when I said that these are my husband’s favorite! That might be difficult. Your guests will love this treat and they’ll love you for inviting them!




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