Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Valentine Meringues

Today’s recipe for Valentine Meringues is a twist on a recipe for Brown Sugar Meringues that I made about a year ago. This time, instead of using brown sugar in them, I’m making them with all white sugar. The flavor is a little different, and they look a little different, but they’re just as delicious as the brown sugar variety. I made these festive for Valentine’s Day, and I think they’d make a pretty gift for your special valentine. Speaking of special valentines, I had to share this photo of my two favorite valentines, my mom and dad. My dad is in his Matt Damon/James Dean phase here, and my mom has a very cute and stylish Audrey Hepburn type haircut.

They were probably seniors in high school here, and were already dating. The photo says “Thanksgiving”, and that would have been November of 1957. They were always “mushy” with each other. My dad would make my mom dance in the kitchen when we were growing up, and he would sing to her or come up behind her and give her a big smooch (she pretended she was bothered, but she loved it). He would even remember the date their first date and be sure to let her knew that he remembered! They started dating in the 1950’s and I think these meringues look like they could have been from the 1950’s – they’re in the shape of roses, and the sprinkles make them look a bit pink.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Valentine Meringues

Beat in a medium bowl until soft peaks form:

4 egg whites

Gradually beat in  until soft and glossy:

1 cup sugar (instead of using half brown sugar, like in the original recipe)


1 teaspoon vanilla (this was my own addition – it’s not in the recipe, but it added a bit more of a marshmallow flavor)

At this point you can tint the egg whites with food coloring if you wanted to make the roses a certain color.

Spoon into a piping bag (or a large zip-top bag with a corner cut off) fitted with a large M1 star tip.

Pipe onto parchment lined baking sheet, making twists, swirls, or roses.

Bake in 250 degree oven about 2 hours or until meringues are firm and dry (these were done for some reason after about an hour and 15 min).

Cool completely, peel off parchment, and store in airtight container up to 2 weeks.

When adding the sugar to the egg whites, make sure the sugar is dissolved before piping. Take a bit between your finger and thumb and rub them together. You shouldn’t feel any grittiness in the egg whites.

Try to get stiff peaks in the egg whites – it will hold a shape better.

When I made the Brown Sugar Meringues, I made a little swirl shape. Here I used the M1 tip to make a rose shape. I’m a bit obsessed with that rose shape. I just love it! It’s so pretty! The other tip for baking these meringues – make sure you can get them all on two baking sheets so they can all get into the oven at the same time.

You can use colored sugar or sprinkles before baking to add even MORE festive decoration.

This shape did get a little more chewy than the swirl shape I made with the Brown Sugar Meringues. I don’t mind that.

These meringues are so easy to do, and so much fun – you’re gonna get hooked on making them like I did. You can decorate them for any occasion, and they’re delicious. The possibilities are endless – different shapes, different colors, different flavors, different sprinkles. Make your valentine feel special, and give them a dozen of THIS kind of rose – try these Valentine Meringues!



Date Drops

This recipe for Date Drops comes from the tiny book at my sister’s house. That little tiny recipe book has just been jam packed with really good recipes. Whenever I bake with dates, it brings back memories of Grandma’s kitchen. She LOVED dates and LOVED to bake with them. There are so many recipes in her file that use dates: muffins, cakes, cookies, bars. There are dates in almost every category of recipe. Grandma’s sisters had a lot of recipes that used dates, also. Maybe they were kind of exotic at one time for this family who survived the Great Depression of the 1930’s and maybe dates were a reasonably priced ingredient to use in their baked treats. Dates can make things so sweet, chewy, and delicious, and these cookies are no exception. They’re very similar to another date cookie recipe Grandma had in her file called Date Rocks. They’re so good, and they make the kitchen smell like Grandma’s kitchen when they’re baking!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Date Drops

Cream together:

2/3 cup butter

1 1/4 cup brown sugar


2 eggs

2 Tablespoons hot water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 package dates

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

Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet (I used my trusty scoop).

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch.

This is another recipe where I used my trusty scoop to get uniform sized cookies.

They won’t look done, when baking, until they turn golden brown.

These cookies are so tasty with the chewy dates and crunchy nuts in them.

If you like dates, you’re going to LOVE these sweet, chewy cookies. They are a classic cookie that’s perfect with afternoon coffee or tea. I know Grandma and her sisters would have loved having these cookies when having coffee together. Your family will also love these Date Drops – get together and enjoy each other and these delicious cookies!


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Spice Cookies

Today’s recipe for Spice Cookies comes from my mom, and is a lot like Gingersnaps, only it uses less molasses. There are a TON of spices in there! It looks like someone just said – let’s just throw them all in and see what happens. Well, what happens is that it makes an amazingly delicious and spicy cookie!

I had just turned 3 in this photo from 1963, and I think this is about the time when I started to really enjoy a good Spice Cookie with a nice cup of hot cocoa when coming in from playing in the snow. The car was a light yellow Ford Galaxie 500 with black vinyl seats. I may still have burn scars on the back of my legs from those seats – not great in the hot summertime with no AC!!

While it looks like a lot of snow here, it was probably just another winter day in Minnesota! Ahhh. Those were the days. We don’t seem to get snow like that anymore, and personally, I’m not happy about it. My dad was also still rocking his Matt Damon look – plus a popped collar. Ha!

Ok – back to these delicious, spicy, tender cookies. They’re SO GOOD! Let’s throw open the doors of the spice cabinet and get going on this recipe!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spice Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar


1 egg

2 Tablespoons molasses

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Roll in balls.

Roll balls in sugar.

Place on baking sheet 2″ apart.

Bake at 350 degrees 16-18 minutes.

After mixing the dough, I used my trusty scoop to make the balls a uniform size. I plopped them right into the sugar and then rolled them into balls.

Sometimes after rolling the balls, you need to roll them in sugar again. They look like the sugar is pushed right into the dough. I mean, as I’ve asked many times before – can you really ever have too much sugar on the outside of a cookie? I think not. Go ahead and roll them one more time if you need to.

Oh boy – these smell so good when baking!

These cookies are great with an afternoon cup of Spiced Mocha Mix, Grandma’s Cocoa, or Hot Chocolate.

These cookies are SO GOOD. Did I mention that already? Let me reiterate – they’re SO GOOD! They’re a nice soft cookie, not crisp like Gingersnaps can be. Even though they only have a small amount of molasses, they are a tasty, spicy cookie. Next time you’re out playing in the snow, before you go outside, make up a batch of these Spice Cookies to have when you come in from the cold with your afternoon coffee, cocoa, or hot chocolate – your friends and family will be begging for more!


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Thimble Cookies

Today’s recipe for Thimble Cookies comes from my other grandma. She had written it into one of her old church cookbooks, so I’m thinking it must be a good one. Thimble cookies seems like a strange name, so I had to research the internet and see if they are a “thing”. Turns out they can go a couple of different ways. One way is to use your thimble to cut out the cookies after rolling out the dough. Excuse me. That would make really tiny cookies. Who wants that? I’m not going to go through the trouble of making rolled out cookies and make them tiny and then people (I’m thinking of my husband here) would just pop them into their mouths by the handful like a snack and they’d be gone in no time. No, sir and no thank you. The second way I found was to make an indent in the cookie for putting a cherry or a nut or jam in the middle of the cookie (I assume you’d technically use the thimble to make the indent). This makes more sense to me. It seems to be that this is the forerunner to Thumbprint Cookies. Maybe someone used a thimble to make the hole to hold the jam back in the day, but now people just use their thumb to do it. For those of you who don’t know what a thimble is, it’s a metal cup that fits on the tip of one of your fingers so you can push a needle through fabric without hurting your fingertip – you know, when you’re darning your socks or something. For those of you who don’t know what darning your socks means, it’s when you use a needle and thread to sew up holes in your socks. For those of you who don’t know what a needle and thread are . . . oh forget it. Anyway, I’m excited to try this cookie. I don’t remember Grandma ever making these, but she must have had them somewhere and liked them or she wouldn’t have written it down.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Thimble Cookies

Mix together:

1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoon vanilla

Roll in balls, dip in unbeaten egg white.

Roll ball in:

1 cup very finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Make impression in center (with the thimble? I used my thumb).

Bake at 360 degrees for 5 minutes (not 350 degrees – 360 degrees – that’s what she wrote).

Fill hole with cherry or nut and bake 12 minutes more.

I made the balls a little smaller than a walnut, but I would make them half that size next time. They ended up bigger than I thought they’d be. Surprise – I made the cookies bigger than they’re supposed to be! Imagine that.

I basically set up a dipping and rolling station. Roll the balls (do a few at a time cuz your fingers get messy), dip them in the egg white, and roll them in the very finely chopped nuts (I didn’t chop the nuts finely enough, either). Then onto the baking sheet. For some reason, I couldn’t find my thimbles ( I do have several), so I used my thumb to make the indentations in the cookies.

After the first 5 minutes, they come back out of the oven to fill the holes.

I used cherry halves because I thought a whole cherry wasn’t necessary. Next time I’d use a whole cherry. I seriously don’t know why I think I know better than the grandmas. Just follow the recipe.

Even though the cookies are probably bigger than they’re supposed to be, they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I’m not even kidding about that melt-in-your-mouth thing. They’re so festive and pretty, too, and they’ll look spectacularly beautiful on the cookie plate. This may be a new cookie that I make every year. Thanks to my other grandma, you, too can make use of your thimble and make these Thimble Cookies!


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Moravian White Christmas Cookies

Today’s recipe for Moravian White Christmas Cookies is a recipe that Grandma must have found it in a newspaper somewhere. I’m sure glad she found it, and I’m sure glad she kept it. As you can see, she marked it “very, very good”. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know what that means. It’s good, and I mean good. She has marked things “v good” or “very good” along the way, but I can’t remember any recipe that she marked “very, very good”, so I’m excited to see exactly HOW good these are. Making an actual recipe that Grandma kept makes me very nostalgic for the old days. While making these cookies, I kept remembering Christmases from my childhood. Until I was 8, we lived in a town that still had a downtown with all the shops and stores up and down the streets. There were Christmas decorations and lights hanging across the streets, evergreen roping, lights, and decorations in every shop window, bells ringing from the people manning the red kettles on every corner, and groups of carolers were singing Christmas music all around town. Specifically, I’m remembering going shopping with my dad for my mom’s presents, and we usually went to a dress shop that had things she liked and wanted. It was very fancy, and I remember one year we got perfume (among other things), but what I remember most was the fun of going with my dad – just the two of us. It was evening, and it was snowing big, huge, billowy white flakes, the big colored Christmas lights were glowing all over town, the Christmas music surrounded us from everywhere, and we were buying my mom’s seemingly magical Christmas presents. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite part of the whole night was watching the saleslady wrap all the presents for us to take home. Yes, they wrapped your presents for free back then  – how great was that?!! They were so glamorous because they came from the dress shop, and it was very fancy – beautiful metallic wrapping paper with a big puffy bow. I have to say, I don’t remember my mom opening those presents, but I sure do remember going shopping with my dad. I miss those days – those are precious memories.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Moravian White Christmas Cookies

Cream thoroughly:

1 cup butter or margarine (I used butter)

2 cups sugar

Add one at a time:

4 eggs

Beat well after each addition.

Sift together:

4 cups sifted flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Gradually add to creamed mixture, blending after each addition.

Chill (I chilled the dough about an hour).

Roll dough, a little at a time, on a well-floured surface to about 1/8″ thickness.

Cut into desired shapes.

Place on greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12minutes or until lightly browned.

Icing (from my old red Betty Crocker Cookbook – this is doubled):

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 Tablespoons half-n-half (I used whole milk)

Mix until smooth and of spreading consistency or right consistency for piping.

Frost cookies and sprinkle on colored sugars or sprinkles.

Let dry before packing into air tight container.

I love the cinnamon and nutmeg in this cookie dough. That’s unusual and a little bit different.

To chill the dough, I wrap it in plastic wrap and make it into a flat round. That makes it easier to cut sections and roll out after chilling.

I cut the chilled rounds into four sections and roll out one at a time.

After baking, the cookies are ready to frost. You could sprinkle them with colored sugar before baking – no need to frost then. We decided long ago (as a family) that there is really no point to that. We like them frosted. The more frosting, the better.

I haven’t frosted cookies myself for years. It’s a thing the whole family likes to do together, but this year I was stuck with doing it myself. I couldn’t participate last year because I was sick, so this year I’m taking my turn. I wouldn’t complain except that my strength isn’t quite back up to speed yet and man, it wore me out!

These cookies are delicious. That little bit of spice makes all the difference. For some reason, they even seem sweeter than our regular recipe. Maybe it’s the spice, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, Grandma was right, as usual. We know by now to never question Grandma’s notes on the recipes or even the recipes themselves. With very few exceptions, they’ve all been, at the very least, “V Good”! You might want to try these Moravian White Christmas Cookies and try something just a little bit different.

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Fruit Cookies

This recipe for Fruit Cookies was one of Grandma’s favorite Christmas cookies. She loved fruitcake, and while she did make some tasty Fruitcake, I think these cookies were easier than making the cake. The recipe takes a lot of chopping, which takes awhile, but it’s worth it. They’re so sweet and chewy and full of fruit and nuts – oh my. The smell of these cookies baking brought me right back to Grandma’s kitchen. Her little kitchen on the farm was never so busy as this time of year. There were always lots of different Christmas cookies, cakes, candies, and treats of all kinds. She’d get on her apron, open up the big drawer/bin that held a 20 pound bag of flour (I kid you not – the bin was right in the kitchen as part of the kitchen cupboards), and get to work. I love how her recipes handed down can bring us back together even though she’s gone. I can almost hear her funny little laugh, and it’s like having her right back here in my kitchen with me making Christmas goodies, snitching a taste here and there, and telling stories of growing up in her big family!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fruit Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup butter (Grandma used margarine – I do not)

1 1/4 cup brown sugar


2 eggs, beaten

Sift together:

2 1/4 cups flour (save some for mixing in with fruit – I used 1/4 cup for that)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix with the creamed mixture.

Cut in small pieces, mix with the saved 1/4 cup flour, and fold in:

1 1/2 pound dates

4 slices candied pineapple

1/2 pound candied cherries

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

Bake at 375 degrees (Grandma said to judge for yourself how long to bake them) for 12-15 minutes (in my oven) or until cookies are golden brown.

There are a lot of fruit and nuts in these cookies! Get your chopping skills ready!

Once again I used my trusty scoop to make the cookies all a similar size.

You can see how full of fruit and nuts they are here.

They come out of the oven all caramel-y and brown sugar-y!

These are a very chewy, very fruity, very tasty cookie. They do kind of taste like fruitcake, only BETTER! I know that these were Grandma’s favorite, and while they were baking, it smelled just like Grandma’s kitchen in my kitchen. Even if you don’t like Fruitcake, you’ll love these delicious Fruit Cookies.

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10 of My Family’s Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes!

I’m sharing 10 of My Family’s Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes! Today is Black Friday, and it’s “go time”! While I’m not a big one for Black Friday shopping, I AM one for getting onto the Christmas baking ASAP! There’s not a minute to waste, so I’m helping you out today with some great recipes that my family loves. This is not a complete list of what we make each year (not by any stretch of the imagination), but it is a partial list of our favorites. There’s a little something for everyone on the list! Enjoy!

Peanut Blossoms


Christmas Wreath Cookies


Mosaic Fruit Slices


Scalloped Cookies


Oatmeal Trilbys


Date Balls


Christmas Cookies


Peanut Butter Snowballs


Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies


Ritz Cracker Cookies


German Lebkuchen


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Ginger Cookies #4

Ginger Cookies #4? Yes! That’s how many different recipes for Ginger Cookies I have on the blog! You can check them all out: Ginger Cookies, Ginger Cookies #2, and Ginger Cookies #3. We liked ginger cookies in our family, in fact we liked cookies of any kind. My dad was a huge outdoors guy and a hunter, and every fall he needed food and snacks to go out hunting. We would make cookies, bars, cakes, sandwiches, snacks, and anything else we could think of to send with him so he wouldn’t be hungry. You can’t be distracted by a growling stomach when you’re hunting! That just wouldn’t be right – you might scare the away the ducks or geese or deer or whatever you’re hunting for that particular weekend. You need plenty of food with you to keep you fueled up and ready to hunt. If he stayed overnight, say for deer hunting with a couple of good friends, there were always pictures of the food they made. Is that a dude thing? Is it because they just didn’t cook enough at home back then? I don’t know, but I always thought that was so funny. We’d be ready to look at the hunting photos and there would be a nice picture of their breakfast cooking away on the camp stove, perfectly arranged bacon and eggs with a nice pot of steaming hot coffee alongside (so we knew they could, indeed, do it). Ah – the smell of bacon, eggs, and coffee in the outdoor air. Maybe that’s why they took the pics of the food – it’s not only a great visual, it’s a great memory of those delicious breakfasts spent in the outdoors with friends, enjoying the breakfast, nature’s beautiful fall leaves and scenery, and each other’s company. Ok. I get it now.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Ginger Cookies

Mix in order given:

1 cup shortening (I used butter)

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

6 Tablespoons molasses

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

Roll in balls and press out with a spoon dipped in water.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

I really don’t understand this “press out with a spoon dipped in water” thing, so I decided to try a few different options. When you make peanut butter cookies, you use a fork and criss cross the marks on the cookie, so I tried that. Next I seriously tried the spoon dipped in water. For the third try, I rolled the ball of dough and rolled it in sugar like I always do when I make Gingersnaps.

Here’s what happened after baking. I went with the usual – roll the dough into a ball and then roll the ball in sugar. I like that. It looks more traditional.

I used my trusty scoop to make these balls.

See how pretty?!!!

Like most spice cookies, these were better the next day. There’s something about those spices melding and letting the flavor go all the way through that dough. It’s HARD, I know, but just wait a day – they really are better! It might be fun to have a taste test and try all of the Ginger Cookies that I’ve shared on the blog, but especially try these Ginger Cookies #4 – they’re delicious!


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Sour Cream Drop Cookies

Today’s recipe for Sour Cream Drop Cookies comes from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks, and you know how I feel about those cookbooks. I love them. You KNOW those recipes are all great. They’re the best of the best. This recipe has two check marks on it, so I don’t know if that means she had tried it already, or if it was checked so she’d remember to try it one day. I don’t care. It’s another good one – perfect for an after-school snack or afternoon coffee.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sour Cream Drop Cookies

Cream until fluffy:

1/2 cup soft butter

1 cup brown sugar


1 egg

Beat well.


1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream – you know, to make them healthier – ha!)

Sift together:

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Stir into the first mixture.


1 cup uncooked rolled oats

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

Drop onto baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

See? These cookies are so good for you! Look at all the healthy goodies that are in them!

The recipe says it makes 2 1/2 dozen. This has to be a first – I got more than the recipe says. I used my trusty scoop and got 3 dozen plus 1 cookie.

The cookies are tender and delicious. Did I mention that they’re good for you? With all the healthy goodies inside? Maybe I did.

I know I said that they’re perfect for an after-school snack or afternoon coffee, but did I mention that they’re healthy? I think I did.

Now, because these cookies are so chock full of oats and nuts and raisins, I think we can clearly conclude that they are, indeed, good for you. Really. How can they not be? Look at all the healthy ingredients! They’re soft and tender and a really great cookie. Not to mention delicious. And healthy. Ok, ok, I’ll let it go. But try these Sour Cream Drop Cookies and see if you don’t agree that they’re a pretty healthy cookie!

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Sugar Cookies #4 and Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches

Today’s recipe for Sugar Cookies #4 is going to serve two purposes (yes – this is the 4th recipe for plain sugar cookies I’ve done on this blog). One – they’re just downright delicious as a cookie. Two – we’re going to make ice cream sandwiches out of them! Yes! You heard me. Even better – since the holiday is coming up – we’re going to make them festive for the 4th of July!

The 4th of July was always a big deal for my family. Grandma and Grandpa’s church always had a “Homecoming” on the 4th of July, where people who had grown up in that small town (technically my mom’s hometown) would come home for a good old-fashioned small town 4th celebration. There would be a big lunch at the church and park in town, where the church would furnish the fried chicken or some other delicious main dish along with the rest of the meal, and the church ladies would all bring their Ost Kaka and pies for dessert. Then in the afternoon there would be a program of some kind: singing, bands, or readings. My mom, dad, sister and I lived on a lake when I was growing up and in the small town not far from our lake (technically where my dad grew up) there was a parade every 4th of July. We would either go to my mom’s small hometown or go to my dad’s small hometown near us for the first part of the day and then in the afternoon, we would have friends and family to our house to eat until we couldn’t eat anymore, swim until our ears were so full of water we couldn’t hear anymore, canoe until we would just swamp the canoe so we wouldn’t have to paddle anymore, boat until we ran out of gas and the motor wouldn’t go anymore, water ski until our legs were shaking and we couldn’t stand up on the skis anymore, and shoot off fireworks of some kind until we couldn’t stand the mosquitos anymore. It was so much fun and I have a lot of great memories from both kinds of celebrations from those years.

This is another recipe from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sugar Cookies #4

Mix in order given:

1 cup sugar

1 cup shortening, half butter (I used all butter)

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla (I put the vanilla in here with the more liquid ingredients, and I used 2 teaspoons to give it more vanilla flavor)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Flour to make a soft dough

Roll on floured board.

Bake in hot oven (I baked them at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes).

The dough for this recipe rolls out nicely – and no need to chill it! I love that!

I decided to make them VERY festive. You can never be TOO festive. Right?

They’re a tender cookie after baking, and they’re delicious!

I used store-bought (gasp!) ice cream, but you can certainly make your own homemade ice cream if you want to.

I made all of these ice cream sandwiches, wrapped them, and put them right into the freezer to pull out on the 4th of July for a tasty treat.

These cookies are so easy to make, since there’s no dough chilling involved. You can just roll them right out and get it done. Make them as festive as you want to. Maybe try just sugar on top of them and fill them with strawberry ice cream, or chocolate ice cream, or mint ice cream. All of those would be right up my alley. I may have to make another batch of these Sugar Cookies #4 and try them all!



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