Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Orange Tapioca Jello

Growing up on the lake, I remember springtime as being cold. It was sunny and it was green, but it was cold. I’m pretty sure this had something to do with the spring breeze blowing over the ice still left on the lake. Some years there would be a rim of open water at the edge of the ice, and we’d jump across to the ice and walk around on it. There were times, however, that there would be ice floes, which were big flat chunks of ice floating at the edge of the lake. The trick to jumping on and riding the floes was to never go farther or deeper than what you wanted to get wet if you fell off, and falling off was cold – very cold! Not that I know ANYTHING about that. Really. It was just so nice to be outside in that cold, clean, fresh air and see things growing and hear all the things melting. I also loved the wild flowers in the spring, and I had a secret place – ala The Secret Garden – where I could find all kinds of flowers to put into little glasses or vases around the house. This helped with the spring cleaning, when it was time to clear the dust and cobwebs of the winter away, open up the windows, and let in the fresh, clean air rush in and freshen everything up.

Today I’m sharing a jello salad that we always have for Easter dinner. I think the recipe originally came from Grandma years ago, and I still make it every year. The orange flavor makes it a perfect springtime treat. I don’t have the card for this anymore, so I’ll just type it out.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Orange Tapioca Jello

(This is the original recipe, but I usually double it, like I did here.)

1 package sugar-free orange jello

1 package sugar-free vanilla pudding

1 package tapioca pudding

11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained with liquid reserved

Boil jello and puddings with 3 cups water (using reserved mandarin orange juice as part of this).

When cool, top with Cool Whip (you can also use whipped cream) and mandarin oranges.

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This is a fairly easy recipe, which is always nice to have when you’ve got a big holiday meal to prepare. I’m all for anything being easy, as long as it’s this delicious.

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The mixture is boiling hot, so if you’re worried about putting this into a good crystal bowl, let it cool down a bit before putting it into your pretty bowl or container. I’ve done this for years with this particular bowl, so I’m comfortable just putting it in there hot.

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I usually top this with the Cool Whip/whipped cream and garnish with the mandarin orange segments, but to do this the way Grandma would have done it, we pass a separate bowl of whipped cream so everyone can put on (or not) what they want.

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This is such a delicious recipe, and it always brings back happy memories for our family. We’ve been having this delicious salad for our Easter dinner for as long as I can remember, and it always signals springtime. Try this delicious and creamy salad – just right for springtime!

 

 

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Springtime Flowers

Our family lost a dear friend over the weekend. It happened way too early for the young man who was more than a friend to my son. He was a kind of big brother, a mentor, and a band mate – a wonderful and gifted musician and songwriter, who was in 2 bands with him. Left behind were his lovely young wife and his 17 month old son. This wonderful husband, father, and business owner will be so dearly missed by all who knew him.

I’m having trouble with this loss. A while back, he stopped at our house to drop off something for my son, and we chatted a bit about his baby son before he headed back to his truck. He told me that his wife was working at home to be with their son, and his face absolutely lit up when he started talking about them. He loved them so. My heart just aches for his family, and for the fact that they face a life without him. We never know why these things happen, but they do happen. I so hope that the incredible love and support they’re getting from family and friends will hold his wife and son up in the months and years to come. It always seems like the world should stop when things like this happen, but it doesn’t. Life goes on.

Because of the week’s events, I was feeling the need to brighten up the house. We haven’t had a lot of snow here in Minnesota, and it’s not warm enough for things to start growing yet. It’s very brown and drab outside, and that’s not helping my mood. I needed some color and some Springtime Flowers.

I know – this arrangement ended up being a bit large, but I don’t care. It’s beautiful. I can’t tell you how much this little bit of springtime has already lifted my spirits.

These flowers totaled less than $20, and it really was money well spent. I think they’re all pretty long-lasting flowers, and I hope to have them last a week or more.

They really did bring a bit of spring into the house. I did have enough to make one other smaller bouquet that I put in my living room.

Grandma and Grandpa had pussy willows growing on the corner of their house once they moved off the farm and into the little town about a mile away, and they would bring me a big bunch every spring. I wish I would have gotten a cutting from that bush to put in our yard. Pussy willows are one of my springtime favorites.

These beautiful orange tulips just brighten up the day!

 

I put this bouquet into an old coffee pot of Grandma’s. I’m glad I decided to invest in this big bunch of beautiful springtime flowers. It really wasn’t that much of an investment, and they really have brightened my day and my mood.

Having lost loved ones and family members before, I never take anything for granted. I cherish every minute and hold my remaining loved ones a little bit closer. Life can be so fragile. Thanks for visiting today, thanks for listening, and please check back again soon!

 

 

 

 

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Cherry Chocolate Cake

This recipe is one I remember from when I was growing up in the 1970’s. I think we made this Cherry Chocolate Cake quite often and it was one of my favorites. The recipe was one that, like so many of these recipes that I’ve found, I thought was lost and gone forever. It’s been found in some recipes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and I’m so glad! Luckily, I found this recipe in time to make it for my mom’s birthday cake last week.

By the way – here is a photo of my mom the birthday girl when she was just a little “squirt” – as Grandpa used to say. She was such a cutie!

I just want to know how Grandma ever got those shoes on her! Look at those buckles!

Ok – on to the birthday cake!

After having a piece of this cake, I remember why it was one of my favorites.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cherry Chocolate Cake

Mix together:

1 chocolate cake mix

1 can cherry pie filling

4 eggs

1/3 cup oil (I used canola oil)

Put into 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Frosting:

1 package instant chocolate pudding

1 1/2 cup milk

Let sit a few minutes before spreading.

Refrigerate.

I used a different chocolate frosting recipe this time, because it was a birthday cake for my chocolate loving mom.

There are very few ingredients in this ridiculously easy recipe, but it sure is good!

You can see all the cherries from the pie filling in the batter.

Adding this more chocolatey frosting just adds more decadence to this cake.

You can see how moist this cake is – it’s just amazing because there are so few ingredients. You wouldn’t think the pie filling would make that much of a difference, but I guess it does. I’m glad this recipe was found – no matter how easy it is, it’s so good with all that cherry goodness in there! This makes a great birthday cake, but it makes a great cake for any occasion.

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St. Patrick’s Day Bundt Cake

I have decided to make this Bundt Cake for every holiday throughout this year – just to show you how easy it is to switch it up and make this cake holiday appropriate. Today we’re going to make a St. Patrick’s Day Bundt Cake. Because it’s so quick and easy, you can decorate to your heart’s content – depending on the holiday or special occasion.

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This is just so ridiculously easy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bundt Cake

Mix all together:

4 eggs

1 cake mix (I used a white cake mix for this one)

1 instant pudding (I used pistachio for this one)

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oil (I used canola)

Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Pour into buttered bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack for 25 minutes.

Turn out onto cooling rack unto cool.

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Using a white cake mix and pistachio pudding makes this a pretty green color. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

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Now this – is a thing of beauty.

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I think I’ve finally found the perfect way to bake and remove a bundt cake from the pan. Cooling 25 minutes in the pan after baking – perfect. I do have a non-stick pan, but I turned it over and it popped right out – no sticking!

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Now for the fun part – the decorating! I used the same Powdered Sugar Glaze with a disposable piping bag like the one I used on the Valentine’s Day Bundt Cake. If you don’t have disposable piping bags, you can use a zip top bag with a corner cut off. I use gel food coloring to tint the frosting and get a nice bright color. Remember to get the sprinkles on quick – the frosting dries fast!

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So pretty! Another festive and holiday appropriate treat!

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This is the perfect last-minute dessert for St. Patrick’s Day!

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This cake is delicious and so easy to make. Let’s see . . . what’s the next holiday? Check in a few weeks back for an Easter Bundt Cake!!

 

 

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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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Lemon Cutting Board Cleaner

Today we’re “cleaning up” our recipes using the lemons my daughter brought home from California. Ha! No pun intended. Well, yes, the pun IS intended. This is the last one where we’re letting the “sun shine in”! It’s time to move on to other things, but I had to do one last thing using those beautiful lemons.

I use my cutting boards a lot to cut up onions and garlic, and they tend to get a bit smelly. Do you ever have that problem? There have been times when I have cut fruit or bread on my board, and they end up smelling like onions. I need to clean them from time to time and keep them in tip-top shape. Because we’ve been doing so many lemon recipes, I happened to have a lemon leftover. Aha! It’s the perfect time to clean and disinfect my cutting boards! I had used the rind, but didn’t need the juice of this lemon, so – time to give the boards a good scrubbing.

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Cut your lemon in half and sprinkle on some kosher salt.

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Squeeze on some of the lemon juice.

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Take the lemon half and give it a little scrub on top of the salt, then let it sit for a few minutes. Wow – this lemon doesn’t look so great after losing it’s rind and sitting for a couple of days, but the juice will still do the trick. You could also use a half of a lemon after you juice it, just scrub it like it was a normal half of a lemon. Also, you can do this with lemons that are a bit past their prime and don’t look so great.

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After the juice sits on the board for a few minutes, give it a GOOD scrub with the lemon half. Wipe it down, give it a thorough rinse, and that’s it!

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This doesn’t take out the cut marks, but it does do a good job taking out the smell. It’s fresh and clean!

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I like to put some mineral oil on a cloth, rub it in, and give it a pretty shine, too. The boards get so much use, they tend to get dried out. There you go – all ready to go and good as new! I’ll miss using those bright, sunny, and fragrant lemons, but spring will be here soon, and it’s time to move on. Check back for springtime recipes coming soon!

 

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Lemon Sherbet

We’re still doing lemon recipes with the lemons my daughter brought from California. Let’s just continue to let the sun shine in until spring actually comes. Well, maybe not that long, but at least for one more week.

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I was looking through some of Grandma’s old church cookbooks recently, and found recipes where she had written notes on them. There were some she had made: some good ones and some she marked as not so good. There were even some with check marks where she had written “try this one”. Some of them even had the year she made them. I love that we have her remarks on those recipes. It’s almost like still having her here to chat about them and tell us which ones to try and which ones to let well enough alone. Which ones to change or tweak just a bit, and maybe how to make them a bit better. It makes me not miss her quite so much.

I found the recipe for today in one of those old books, and even though it wasn’t in a cookbook from her church, it’s one of those great recipes you always find in those old church cookbooks. I still say everybody put their best recipes in there, so they’re always just the best ones! This recipe for Lemon Sherbet is no exception. Wow.

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Sherbet? Naw – this is more of an ice cream.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Sherbet

Beat until lemon colored:

2 eggs

Add gradually:

1/2 cup sugar

Beat until thick.

Add:

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 teaspoon lemon rind

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 cups top milk (I would say this is cream, or you could also use half-n-half or whole milk)

Mix well.

The recipe says to pour into a shallow refrigerator pan. When soft in the center only, beat quickly, and refreeze. I used our ice cream maker and it took about 30 minutes to freeze.

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Because this recipe uses raw eggs, I recommend using the freshest eggs you can find, or use pasteurized eggs. We didn’t have a problem with the raw eggs.

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Make sure you beat the eggs until lemon-colored.

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Add the sugar, and then squeeze those beautiful, bright lemons for the lemon juice. Don’t forget to take the rind off FIRST.

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Mix in the top milk. Haha! Now we know that this is a very old recipe. I used cream, but I’m sure you could use half-n-half or even whole milk.

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I put the mixture into our ice cream maker, and then I put the frozen mixture into a chilled container before putting into the freezer. Because this recipe includes corn syrup and eggs, it stayed easy to scoop, even after freezing for a few days. It didn’t get icy or crystallized at all.

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I wouldn’t call this sherbet. It really is ice cream. It’s so lemony and so creamy and so good and so EASY to make. You’re not going to believe this amazingly delicious ice cream. I recommend you make this right away. Now. You won’t be sorry!

 

 

 

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Lemon Dessert #2

The recipe for today is one of the most delicious recipes I’ve done to date. I’m so grateful to my daughter for hauling home the lemons and for her college roommate for letting her pick the lemons off of the tree in her backyard. Those lemons have definitely brightened up our winter.

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Today’s recipe for Lemon Dessert #2 is very similar to another Lemon Dessert I posted about a couple of years ago. But this one is better! I just have to say up front – that this dessert is the most delicious thing I’ve eaten in years! I’m not even kidding. I wouldn’t kid you about a thing like this. It is – and I don’t use this word often – AMAZING.  My family decided it was like eating baby angels. So ridiculously “melt in your mouth” good. This dessert is a lot like a Pavlova, only it’s in a cake pan instead of on a baking sheet.

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Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Dessert #2

Beat for 15 minutes:

8 egg whites

2 cups sugar

1/2 Tablespoon vinegar (I used white vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Put into a 9″ x 13″ pan and bake at 275 degrees for 1 hour.

Turn oven off and let stand in oven for 20 minutes.

For filling:

Cook in a double boiler until thick:

8 egg yolks, beaten a little

1 cup sugar

Grated rind of 2 lemons (Grandma noted that she didn’t use this, but I did)

6 Tablespoons lemon juice

Cool both crust and filling.

Whip:

1 pint whipping cream (it doesn’t say to add any sugar to the whipped cream, but I added about 2 Tablespoons – it seemed weird to me to not have it sweetened just a bit)

Put about half of the whipped cream on top of the crust, then the lemon filling, then the rest of the whipped cream.

Sprinkle coconut on top of everything and refrigerate overnight.

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This is my double boiler – a glass bowl sitting on top of a pan of simmering water. Does anyone use double boilers anymore? This works just fine.

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Here are more of those beautiful lemons!

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There was so much meringue for the crust that it almost overflowed in the oven! I pushed it down a bit around the edges so I could get the other goodies on top.

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The filling doesn’t seem to get thick when you’re mixing it in the double boiler. I cooked this for about 20 minutes and finally just decided to take it off the heat. It did firm up and got thick as it cooled a bit.

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So beautiful – layer by layer.

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Not everyone in my family loves coconut. I do. Love it.

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Here it is – like eating baby angels. I’m not even kidding.

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You’re going to want to try this dessert. It takes some time to make, but it’s very easy to do. You’re going to have to trust me on this one and just do it. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll love having this recipe in your arsenal. It’s a very elegant and very delicious dessert – just ask the baby angels.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lemon Pasta with Shrimp

The recipe for today is one continuing our sun-shiny lemon recipes, but today we’re not making dessert – we’re making a pasta dish.

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Lemon Pasta with Shrimp is a main dish that’s also going under the heading of Money-Saving Meals. If you find a good deal on shrimp (frozen in this case), this is a very economical meal. This one is loosely based on Ina Garten’s recipe for Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp, but as usual, I had to put my own spin on it. It’s easy, it’s lemony, and it’s delicious – sounds like it fits all the criteria for letting the sun shine in.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Pasta with Shrimp

Thaw:

2 pounds frozen cooked shrimp (you can roast raw shrimp, like Ina does, but this was what I had on hand)

If using cooked shrimp, remove tails once the shrimp is thawed.

Meanwhile, cook according to package instructions:

1 pound thin spaghetti, angel hair pasta, or other pasta – whatever you like

Drain pasta and reserve a cup or so of the pasta water to add to the sauce, if needed.

Melt in a large skillet:

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

zest and juice of 2 lemons

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 green onions, greens only, thinly sliced

Add the shrimp just long enough to warm through.

Add cooked pasta to the sauce in the skillet.

Combine.

Add some reserved pasta water, if needed.

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It helps to zest your lemon rind and juice the lemon before starting.

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I had cooked frozen shrimp on hand, so that’s what I used.

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My skillet isn’t big enough to put the pasta into, so I combined the pasta and the sauce right in the bowl.

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I made a mistake and didn’t notice before starting, that the recipe calls for 2 pounds of shrimp and 1 pound of pasta. I only had 1 pound of shrimp and should have used only 1/2 pound of pasta. I used the whole pound, but because of the amount of juice in the lemons from California (they were incredibly juicy), the amount of sauce was just fine.

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This is a delicious and lemony pasta dish, and you’re going to love it! Make this one tonight! It’s faster to make than fast food!

 

 

 

 

 

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Lemon Meringue Pie #2 (Filling Made in the Microwave)

We’re continuing the lemon recipes today and letting the sun shine in with a great pie recipe.

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I found this photo from sometime in the 1950’s of almost all of the family – Grandma’s siblings and their spouses and children – and I had to share it today when we’re making a recipe that sounds perfect for a family gathering.

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You can see that even without absolutely everybody there, they were a large group. I imagine that when they got together, they would share their best recipes and make the most delicious ones for the family. This is just that kind of recipe.

This recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie #2 (Filling Made in the Microwave) came from Grandma’s youngest sister, and it sounded like another easy one. When getting ready to make this, I knew that I have done a Lemon Meringue Pie post here already (I shared it in my last post), so I thought I’d better check that recipe before starting this one. The funniest thing happened! They are the SAME recipe! Well, I had to try it both ways, so I made this one, too! In the other pie recipe, Grandma wrote it out for me, and indicated that she got if from someone else. Maybe it’s a totally different recipe, or maybe she left out that little part about it being done in the microwave. Either way – and funnier still – it worked both ways!!! You can do it in the microwave, or do it in a saucepan on the stove! They both work! That being said, it was so easy to do this in the microwave, that I’ll never do it in a pan again.

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Note the “V Good” connotation on this one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Meringue Pie #2 (Filling Made in the Microwave)

Get a 9″ baked pie crust ready (wanting to try something different, I used a graham cracker crust for this one).

Combine in a 2 quart bowl:

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup lemon juice

5 egg yolks (whites reserved)

Stir until smooth.

Add:

2 Tablespoons butter

Cook on high until mixture thickens and boils – 7 1/2 to 8 minutes – stirring 2-3 times.

Stir in:

1-3 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Let stand, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meringue:

In a large bowl beat until foamy:

5 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Add:

1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time

Beat constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks.

Beat in:

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pour filling into pie crust.

Cover filling with meringue – all the way to the edges.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

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I just laughed out loud when I realized that the two recipes were the same, and worked both ways! Too funny!

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It seems weird to just add a chunk of butter, but remember that this will be going into the microwave and it will melt.

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It’s so fast to do and comes out so thick and delicious – THEN you also add the lemon rind!

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I tried something different using a graham cracker crust for this one. I would use a regular crust next time, but my family didn’t seem to mind the graham cracker one. They loved it even though for some reason, it did get a little wet (I read that sometimes that happens when you overbeat the egg whites).

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I used too small of a pie pan, so I also made a couple of “pudding” cups.

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The meringue is fluffy and delicious – don’t forget to top the “puddings”, too!

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I am now a lover of lemon pudding. You can always do this instead of using a crust.

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The pie is beautiful and so amazingly delicious!

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This was so easy to do in the microwave. It’s one of my new favorites – I love it this way. Try this recipe at your next family gathering. You’ll never go back to doing Lemon Meringue Pie on the stove again!

 

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