Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Autumn Bark

As I said in last Tuesday’s post, I made two pans of bark and today I’m sharing another bark recipe – Autumn Bark. Tuesday I shared that I made Minnesota Vikings Bark which I sent in a care package to my nephew at college. When I melted the almond bark, I decided to make two kinds instead of one huge batch to send him. I have been making this treat for a few years now, and it’s just too much fun! I have also made Easter Bark, Halloween Bark, and Leprechaun Bark. It’s a great way to be creative at the same time as being supportive of your favorite team or celebrating your favorite holiday.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Autumn Bark

Melt according to package instructions:

1 package of almond bark

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Spread half of the melted almond bark onto each baking sheet.

Sprinkle on top of melted almond bark several of the following:

Sprinkles

Colored sugars

Nuts – peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds

Pretzels, crushed

Candies in the colors of your favorite team or holiday you’re celebrating

Let bark cool and harden.

Break into pieces.

It’s a lot of almond bark to use the whole thing. When I was making the Minnesota Vikings Bark, I decided to make two kinds.

Don’t forget to use parchment paper on the baking sheets. Not that I know anything about that. Really. Just don’t forget it. Trust me. It’s hard to get the bark off if you don’t use it.

I wasn’t really planning on making two different kinds of bark, but when I saw how much almond bark there was when it was melted, it just seemed like a HUGE amount to make all one kind of. Since I wasn’t planning on it, I just had to used things I had in my cupboards, so I used fall sprinkles, roasted almonds, candy corn, mini chocolate chips, and pumpkins.

So cute. I just love making these barks. They’re ridiculously festive. Who could resist these? The possibilities are endless! There are, what, 7 holidays a year, football teams, baseball teams, basketball teams, hockey teams, the list goes on and on! You can bring them to parties or give them as hostess gifts. Be creative. Make a few of these barks. But right now, make some of this adorable Autumn Bark and make someone’s day!

 

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Minnesota Viking Bark

Today I’m making a batch of what I’m calling Minnesota Viking Bark, and on Friday, I’ll share a batch of Autumn Bark that I made at the same time. This batch is off to South Carolina to my nephew at college. He has grown up in Virginia, but since his mother (my sister) is a huge Vikings fan, he has had to be, too! All college students love to get care packages, so I hope he likes this one! I’ve made a few batches of bark on the blog before: Easter Bark, Halloween Bark, and Leprechaun Bark. It’s so easy to do and it’s so fun to be creative. You can do this for any holiday or sports team. Go crazy with this!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Minnesota Viking Bark

Melt according to package instructions:

1 package of almond bark

Cover two baking pans with parchment paper.

Spread half of the melted almond bark on each pan.

Sprinkle on top of melted almond bark several of the following:

Sprinkles

Colored sugars

Nuts – peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds

Pretzels, crushed

Candies in the colors of the team or holiday you’re celebrating

Let bark cool until it hardens.

Break into pieces.

Since this is Minnesota Viking Bark, of course the colors are purple and gold (yellow). And yes – I did pick out purple and yellow candies from several different boxes of candy!

I put the melted almond bark onto two pans so I could make two different kinds of bark.

You can’t use regular food coloring on almond bark because it makes it seize up and/or get grainy, so I used my powdered food coloring. You can see how old these bottles are by how ragged the price tags are on the lids. Powdered food coloring lasts a long time. A little goes a LONG way.

Before putting all of the melted almond bark onto the baking sheets, I took out a little of the melted almond bark, mixed it with tiny shakes of the blue and red powdered food coloring until I was happy with the purple color, and put it into a zip top bag.

I cut the corner off of the bag and used it like a decorating bag to make squiggles on top of the white almond bark. That’s a technical term – squiggles.

Next, on goes the yellow and purple colored sugars and the white jimmies.

I put on go all of the cute candies next. Press them into the melted almond bark a bit to make sure they stay on the bark and don’t just roll off after it’s hardened.

It’s so cute! I love how it turned out! I’m sure it’s tasty, too (no – I resisted the urge and didn’t try any before I sent it off to South Carolina)! Making this bark is just so much fun! I love doing it, as long as I can find people to send it to! I might have to make another batch of this for the fans here at home. Go ahead – make some of this Minnesota Vikings Bark and root on your (our) favorite team!

 

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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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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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4th of July Soda Cracker Bars

I wanted to try to use a recipe I posted a couple of years ago to make some festive 4th of July Soda Cracker Bars. Grandma’s recipe for Soda Cracker Bars is so incredibly delicious and addictive – I thought, why not try to make them red, white, and blue? Well, this was a mistake. Not a total mistake as much as that I made a mistake. I just assumed I could make the same bars, but use white chocolate chips instead of regular chocolate chips. Nope. I’ll elaborate as we go along.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Soda Cracker Bars

Butter a jelly roll pan and layer on:

soda crackers (about 1 1/2 sleeves of crackers)

Cut or break crackers to fill pan.

Combine in saucepan:

3/4 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

Boil 2 minutes.

Spread hot caramel over soda crackers.

Bake in 325 degree oven for 5 minutes or until bubbly.

Put on top of hot caramel:

2 cup white chocolate chips, melted in microwave according to instructions on package

Carefully spread the white chocolate on top of the caramel.

Top with sprinkles.

Cut while warm.

Put in refrigerator to cool and firm up.

I used a sharp knife to cut through the soda crackers and make them fit the whole pan.

Here is the caramel on top of the crackers, and the white chocolate chips sprinkled on top of that.

So far, so good, right? No. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT do it this way. I guess when there’s a specific way to melt the white chocolate chips on the package, you should take it seriously. You can see that the chips are shiny, which means they’re melting when you use regular chocolate chips. Not so with the white ones. They never did melt enough to spread.

In fact, I could actually scrape them off the caramel. Which I did after trying to put the pan back into the oven in case the pan had cooled off too much for some reason, and wasn’t hot enough to melt the white chocolate chips. That wasn’t it, either.

All that did was ruin the caramel, too. I scraped off the white chocolate chips, but we kept the caramel-coated soda crackers to snack on anyway. They’re still tasty, just not very festive.

Ok – let’s just start over. Here we are at the point where the caramel is on top of the soda crackers. After baking for 5 minutes, it does get bubbly.

Here’s the trick – melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave or double boiler and THEN pour it on top of the bubbly caramel on the soda crackers. I melted them in the microwave while the crackers were in the oven to get the caramel bubbly. Then I let them sit in the warm bowl for a few minutes after the pan came out of the oven. There are people on Pinterest making these bars and not having a problem with the chips melting. I had a problem, so I decided to melt the chips separately. I hope this all makes sense at this point. It really is a very easy recipe!

Spread the melted white chocolate chips over top and then sprinkle with jimmies, sprinkles, or colored sugar. You could also use red, white, and blue M&Ms or other candies – anything that would be yummy and festive.

I did cut some of them while they were still warm, and it was easier to break them apart in squares. I didn’t cut the other half – I just left them as is and broke them apart after cooling. Some of it still broke into squares and some of it broke like almond bark would break.

I think that in the end, after making these twice, they turned out to be VERY festive and colorful. They’re cute – and very addictive. It’s that sweet and salty thing. Just don’t forget that white chocolate chips don’t melt as easily as regular chocolate chips, and you’ll be fine. Make a batch (or two) of these 4th of July Soda Cracker Bars and you’ll have your guests totally addicted!

 

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Leprechaun Bark

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

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Leprechaun Bark

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

Top the tray with pretzels, if desired.

Melt:

1 package dark chocolate chips

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

Drizzle on:

1/2 package of white chocolate chips, melted

Sprinkle on:

Appropriate colored candies

Sprinkles

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

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

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

Break into pieces.

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

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

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

So festive!

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

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

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

 

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Fantasy Fudge

The recipe for today came from my other grandma. She loved Christmas, too, and made a lot of goodies every year. She had a sister-in-law who made a lot of candy, and that’s probably where she got a lot of these Christmas candy recipes. I used to sit for hours in front of Grandma and Gramp’s big silver Christmas tree watching the color wheel change colors over and over and over again. They had blue decorations on it and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I would lay right down under the bottom branches and watch the glittering branches change from red to blue to green to yellow. I loved that tree. Gramp had a sweet tooth like no other, and at Christmastime he would come home with many different kinds of Christmas candy. That may be why Grandma made so many different kinds of candy at that time of year. I know that she got this recipe for Fantasy Fudge from a family member sometime in the 1970’s, and that’s how long I’ve been making it, too. This does make a big batch, which is good, cuz it doesn’t last long. Just sayin’.

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Oh man, does this bring back memories of Christmas back in the day!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fantasy Fudge

Combine in heavy pan:

3 cups sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk (5 oz. can)

3/4 cup butter

Bring to a full boil.

Boil 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in:

12 ounce package of chocolate chips

Stir until melted.

Add:

7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme

1 cup nuts, chopped (I didn’t add nuts because not all in my family like them)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until well blended.

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Cool at room temperature.

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Again – pretty simple ingredients that add up to a delicious treat!

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Get the syrup boiling away.

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Add the chocolate chips.

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Mix in the vanilla and the marshmallow crème.

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Pour it into a baking pan.

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That’s it! A huge batch of fudge that will last you into the new year. Maybe.

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This is another ridiculously quick and easy recipe that makes a lot – perfect for gift giving or as part of your cookie tray. If you want this to last until into the new year, I guess I would hide some. That’s what I have to do in my family, or there just won’t be any left. If you don’t hide it, it’s just too handy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

 

 

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Caramel Candy

This recipe for Caramel Candy came from a family friend years ago. I think I was in junior high school when I started making these caramels, and our family has made them ever since. I used to have the perfect candy-making pot, but it was non-stick and the inside started to get too beat up to keep using. It was orange (I’d had it since the 70’s) and I loved that pot. I haven’t found another one that keeps the temperature nice and even without scorching until this year. Last year for Christmas, my husband gave me a ridiculously expensive copper pot. I was not happy, but he was. WHO wants me to keep making candy (all the while talking about how we need to stop eating candy)? I would guess that it’s someone who gives people copper pots for gifts. Anywhoooo, I decided to give the new copper pot a try BEFORE the holiday season and see just how great this thing is gonna be. Well. It. Is. Amazing. The heat seemed to stay nice and even, and the syrup heated up pretty fast with no scorching. I have to admit that it works great. Ok, ok, I know. That means more candy making. I mean, I have to use the pot, right? It can’t just sit there looking all pretty and coppery, right?

caramel-candy

These caramels are amazingly delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Caramel Candy

Cook to hard ball:

2 cups sugar

2 cups dark corn syrup

Remove from heat and add:

1 cup butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Return to heat and cook to soft ball.

Pour into 9″ x 13″ pan lined with buttered foil.

When cool, flip upside down onto cutting board, cut into pieces, and wrap in waxed paper.

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It’s really only necessary to lightly butter the foil.

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Here is the infamous copper pot, before and during boiling to hard ball! If you don’t have a candy thermometer, use the ice water method and drop a bit of caramel from a spoon into ice water to see how hard it gets. Does it turn into a soft ball of caramel or a hard ball of caramel?

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The caramel seems like it will never cool. Sometimes I put it into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to help it cool down faster. Just don’t let it get too hard before cutting it.

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Cut the pieces of waxed paper big enough to wrap the caramel candies in and still be able to twist the ends. You can find pre-cut wrappers online, but I just use a roll of waxed paper and cut my own.

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It’s easy to flip the caramel out of the pan. I put it onto another piece of waxed paper, just in case it would stick to the cutting board. Peel off the foil and you’re ready to cut. Use a large knife sprayed with non-stick cooking spray to cut the caramels into pieces. I think I could have cut these a bit smaller, but can you really ever have too much caramel?

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Before wrapping, I sprinkled on a bit of sea salt crystals. Oh boy – you know, that sweet and salty thing?!!!

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This is about the right size to wrap and twist.

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One pan makes a lot of candies, so you might want to recruit someone to help cut and wrap.

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Oh wow. These are so good!

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I have to admit that my new copper pot is wonderful, and I highly recommend you get one. These caramels are amazingly delicious and they make a great gift or hostess gift for the upcoming holidays. Make a batch and give it a try. It takes some time, but they really aren’t hard to make. I gave some of these to my friends, and I hid the rest from Mr. Copper Pot. Trust me, you have to hide them or they won’t last long!

 

 

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Easter Treats

Here are some past posts for Easter Treats that I think you’ll enjoy! Try them all!

Hopping Bunny Rolls

Hopping Bunny Rolls

Easter Bark

Easter Bark

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Hot Crossed Buns

Iowa Ham Balls

Iowa Ham Balls

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Truffles

I’m sharing a photo of me with two of my favorite valentines today. This is from February 1961, so I’m about 2 months old here with Grandma and Grandpa. I love this photo – me with my hair in a point at the top of my head, their funky glasses, the wallpaper. It could just be me, but they look awfully proud! I’m pretty tiny, being born a month early and weighing in at just over 5 pounds. My mom says that my grandmas wouldn’t hold me right away because I was so tiny. My sister still likes to point out that I’m a shorty. This is partly why my children now call me “lil peanut”, because I’m still the shortest one in the family!

Chocolate Truffles

Well, Valentine’s Day is upon us, and I thought that today I’d like to try a new recipe that would be a good one to make for your valentine. I decided on a Chocolate Truffle that is Ina Garten’s recipe. This recipe is so easy and so versatile, that I know you’re going to want to make these, too!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Truffles

(This makes a lot – I made half of this recipe.)

Finely chop and put into a heatproof bowl:

1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate (Ina recommends Lindt)

1/2 pound semisweet chocolate (Ina recommends Ghirardelli)

Bring to a boil:

1 cup heavy cream

Turn off heat and let sit 20 seconds.

Pour cream through a fine sieve into the bowl with the chocolate.

With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolate together until chocolate is completely melted.

Whisk in:

2 Tablespoons orange liqueur (Ina recommends Grand Marnier – I had Cointreau so I used that) or other flavored liqueur

1 Tablespoon prepared coffee

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

With 2 teaspoons, make round balls of chocolate mixture and put onto a baking sheet covered with parchment or waxed paper.

Roll each ball in hands to roughly make it round.

Roll balls in powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

You can also roll them in colored sprinkles, coconut, chopped nuts or anything that sounds tasty to you.

Ina says these will keep in the refrigerator for weeks, but they’re best served at room temperature.

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It does take a while to chop the chocolate. Into the bowl it goes.

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Pour the boiling cream in and whisk until it’s glossy and melted.

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Once the flavorings are in, it’s a beautiful, glossy bowl of goodness. Once the chocolate is set, it turns more of a matte consistency.

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I tried to roll the chocolate too soon and it just coated my hands instead of rolling into a ball. Then I let it sit a bit too long and it was pretty firm, the chocolate mixture didn’t really scoop into round balls. I think it’s best to keep an eye on it to see exactly when to start rolling the balls. It was harder to roll the balls to go into the powdered sugar and powdered cocoa when I left it a bit too long.

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I remember hearing once that truffles are supposed to look like the truffles that are dug up from underground (the fungus), so it’s ok if they aren’t exactly round. They’re supposed to look earthy.

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For gift giving you can pop the truffles into some pretty paper cups. These make a nice valentine gift, birthday gift, Christmas gift, hostess gift , anytime gift.

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Your valentine will be very grateful for these amazingly delicious chocolate treats. They are smooth and creamy and just melt in your mouth. Make them now and they’ll be in your refrigerator, ready to go, by Valentine’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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