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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers!

 

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Brownies #3

Today I’m sharing a recipe for Brownies #3 that comes from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house. The #3 connotation is simply because there have been that many brownie recipes in Grandma’s file, and while there have also been many with other names, this is the third one simply named “brownies”. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and what’s the best treat for that special day? Chocolate. Plain and simple. There’s nothing better, in my opinion. This is the same recipe, basically, as the original recipe I made for Brownies from my mom. She probably got her recipe from this tiny book, or at least from the person who donated the recipe to that tiny book. We all know that my mom is a chocolate freak, and unfortunately she passed on this gene to the rest of us in the family (I’m just gonna go ahead and blame that on her). I adored the smell of brownies baking (most Saturdays) while growing up, and for some reason, the smell of brownies always makes me feel loved. Therefore, it makes sense that brownies is what I wanted to make for my valentine.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Brownies #3

Sift together:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

Add:

1/2 cup shortening (I used softened butter)

2 eggs, unbeaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Fold in:

1 square unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled for just a bit

1 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts)

Pour batter into greased 9″ x 9″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

This recipe uses ingredients that any baker will most likely have in their kitchen cupboard. That means that any time you have a hankerin’ for chocolate, you can make these really easy brownies. Trust me, they’re very satisfying.

I decided to use my heart-shaped pan to make these brownies for my valentine. I let it bake for about 20 minutes, then took it out of the oven and put on the sprinkles. Any sooner than that and they sink to the bottom and you can’t see how pretty they are. Back into the oven for at least another 10 minutes.

It actually took about 45 minutes to bake in this pan – it was probably more full than a square pan would be. So – it’s confession time. I wanted to get this out of the pan and freeze it for use on Valentine’s Day. Nope. I tried to get it to come out of the pan and it wouldn’t. It started to break, and I don’t know if you can really see it here, but it cracked right down the middle and only half started to come out. I immediately flipped it back over and just left it in the pan. On to “Plan B”, as one of my friends likes to say.

Here’s what I came up with. Luckily – and I kid you not, here – I had raspberry sherbet in the freezer from making Salad #9, so what goes better with chocolate than raspberry? (BTW – I was making this on a Saturday afternoon and my valentine happened to be home. Whew! We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day RIGHT NOW!) I suppose I could have put the whole pan into the freezer until Valentine’s Day, but instead I made the executive decision to enjoy this treat right away. I scooped up the raspberry sherbet and put it in the middle of the brownie pan. Next, on went the obligatory (in our frig, anyway) canned whipped topping and chocolate sauce. More sprinkles over the top of the whole thing and voila! Happy Valentine’s Day!

I mean, seriously, Happy Valentine’s Day to us! We grabbed two spoons, sat right down, and enjoyed this warm brownie with the cold sherbet, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and sprinkles. Right there in the middle of a Saturday afternoon in January! I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a valentine treat more!

Let me tell ya, we did quite a number on it, too. We did save just a little bit for another time, but we sure did work it over. It was absolutely delicious! Sometimes the best laid plans . . .  Well, I’m sure glad I was able to think fast and go on to “Plan B”. It was a great decision. I highly recommend the raspberry sherbet instead of vanilla ice cream, but that would also be delicious. So, the bottom line here – if you want a valentine treat that your valentine will LOVE – make Brownies #3 and add the goodies on top!

 

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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)

Add:

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!

 

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Brown Sugar Meringues

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

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Brown Sugar Meringues

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put into a medium bowl:

4 egg whites

Beat until soft peaks form.

Gradually beat in:

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

Beat until stiff and glossy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are so pretty!

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

 

 

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Bundt Cake and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Today I’m sharing a photo of one of Grandma’s valentines that she received when she was a girl. The main colors in Grandma and Grandpa’s house were blue and yellow, so years ago, when I saw this valentine of Grandma’s, I made it into a hanging glass piece for her (we may have to explore making some glass ornaments at a later time). I love the little cupid sitting in the middle of that yellow rose.

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She’s so cute, and the sentiment is so sweet!

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It’s so special that Grandma kept her old cards – they meant a lot to her.

Today’s recipe is one that’s quick and easy and great for a last-minute treat. This Bundt Cake recipe can be changed to anyone’s preferences or any holiday flavor. You can use any kind of cake mix and any kind of instant pudding to make your own flavor combinations. I have made this with chocolate cake mix and chocolate instant pudding – for my mom and her chocolate habit – and I’ve made it with a yellow cake mix and butterscotch instant pudding – for my butterscotch loving son. Pick some interesting flavors and make it your own – you can’t go wrong with this one.

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This cake is ridiculously quick and easy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bundt Cake

Mix together:

1 box of cake mix (I used strawberry)

1 box of instant pudding (I used white chocolate)

4 eggs

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oil (I used canola)

Blend on medium speed for 3 minutes or as directed on cake mix box.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Cool in pan on a cooling rack for 25 minutes.

Turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Drizzle with glaze of your choice.

I used this glaze –

Powdered Sugar Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Juice of half a lemon or enough to be able to drizzle the glaze over cake.

Drizzle glaze over top of cake.

Sprinkle with decorations, if desired.

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DON’T FORGET to butter your bundt pan – only if you want the cake to come out of the pan. Then pour the batter in.

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It comes out of the oven so puffed and pretty. After waiting the 25 minutes, it popped right out of the pan! Yay!

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I put the glaze into a disposable piping bag and didn’t even use a tip. Just a cut across the bottom of the bag, squeeze out the glaze, and just toss the bag. Easy clean up!

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Once you get the glaze on, be quick about putting on the sprinkles or the glaze could already be drying and you’ll end up with sprinkles rolling all over the kitchen floor. Not that I really know anything about that. Maybe.

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Just look at it. Oh boy.

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The flavor combination of strawberry and white chocolate was absolutely delicious! This recipe is one to have in your permanent collection. I love that you can tweak it for any holiday or anyone’s taste – any flavors, any colors, any decorations. It’s so easy, so good, and can be made to your specific taste. Your valentine is going to be very, very happy!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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

Melt:

2 squares baking chocolate

Add:

1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)

Blend.

Combine with the chocolate mixture:

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, well beaten

Beat thoroughly.

Add:

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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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They turned out so pretty and very festive!

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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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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers!

Thanks for stopping in!

cupid postcard

 

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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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Rice Krispies – Frosted

This recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters and (even though the name is a little different) it’s very similar to a Special K Bar recipe, but instead, it uses Rice Krispies. I don’t make Special K Bars very often because I have a little problem with them – I would (if left to my own devices) eat the whole pan of bars myself. I’m not even kidding. I just can’t stop. I’m not sure exactly why, except that there’s the combination of the chewy and the gooey and the peanut butter. So the best thing to do – just don’t make them. My kids were deprived of those delicious bars as small children, but it’s just one of those things. I just couldn’t do it more than once every several years. These Rice Krispies – Frosted are much more like a candy than a bar, and because they’re so rich, you really only need a small piece. Right. Only a small one. Just one. Ha.

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These are amazingly delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rice Krispies – Frosted

Bring to a boil:

1 cup sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

Remove from heat and add:

1 cup peanut butter

6 cups Rice Krispies

Mix quickly and press down into 9″ x 13″ pan (I used a large metal spoon with butter on the back side to get the bars pressed into the pan well).

Frosting:

Melt together:

1 package semi sweet chocolate chips

1 package butterscotch chips

Spread on bars.

Let sit until frosting sets.

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These bars really couldn’t be easier. The hardest part is getting all of the peanut butter mixture out of the bowl and into the pan – it does get a bit sticky.

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There is a lot of the luscious frosting, too. I put the pan into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set the frosting.

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I tried to make these bars into Valentine’s Day bars by cutting them out with a cookie cutter. Not happening. The bars were too thick and too set already, so on to Plan B – to cut them into bars – small bars.

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If you keep the bars small, they MIGHT last longer. But then again, maybe not.

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This is a great classic recipe to have in your arsenal for any occasion – Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, and on and on. They’re so good and so easy to make, you’ll want to make these over and over. This recipe is my valentine to you – enjoy!

 

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Strawberry Muffins

Yay! This is the day I’ve waited for since last summer!

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I’m using some of the local strawberries that we bought and put in the freezer for use this winter, and today’s the day. I’m using some of those frozen beauties to make these Strawberry Muffins, and in honor of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, I’m making them in my cast iron heart muffin pan. I don’t have a recipe for strawberry muffins, so I had to look one up online and found one on the allrecipes.com site here. I’m so excited to try these and use those beautiful berries that are so incredibly tasty and fragrant. What a perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast or snack.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Strawberry Muffins

In a small bowl, combine and beat lightly:

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, mix:

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

Toss in 1 cup (I would add another 1/2-1 cup next time) chopped strawberries (if using frozen berries, chop while still frozen and mix in before thawing) and stir to coat with flour.

Pour in liquid mixture and stir together.

Fill muffin cups.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until top bounces back to the touch.

Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.

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It’s easier to mix together when the dry and liquid ingredients are each mixed and ready to stir together. Putting the chopped strawberries into the flour (while still frozen) keeps the strawberry chunks suspended in the batter.

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I love the heart pan, but there was enough batter left over to make 5 regular sized muffins, also. Sprinkling with sanding sugar makes them sparkle on top.

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So cute! Love the hearts!!

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The heart muffins are small, but those local strawberries pack a punch of flavor. I think next time I’d add another half cup to a cup or so more strawberries. Can you really ever have enough of those sweet red morsels? I think not.

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These muffins are beautiful AND delicious! What a wonderful way to use those beautiful local strawberries stashed away in my freezer. and what a great Valentine’s Day treat! Make a couple of batches of these – one to devour now and one for the freezer!

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