Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Canadian Bars

Why did they name these delicious bars Canadian Bars? I had no idea until I looked online for more Canadian Bars recipes and found the same recipe called Nanaimo Bars, named for the city in British Columbia. It’s practically the exact same recipe. Who knew? They are just one more no-bake treat to try before the summer is over. This has been a hot one, and we all know August and even September can also be hot. Summer’s not over yet, and there are still reasons to need a delicious no-bake treat. Because summer’s not over yet, I wanted to share this photo of some of Grandma’s family. Her mother and aunt and oldest sister are in the middle, along with various other family members. They look like they are truly enjoying the beautiful summer day. I love this photo so much, with the ladies wearing their high collared blouses and long skirts.

I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded having some no-bake recipes back then – those wood fired stoves that they had to use must have made the kitchen and house incredibly hot! Turning on the oven in our houses NOW can make the kitchen and house incredibly hot. So I’m glad I found just one more no-bake (it actually says unbaked) recipe from another of Grandma’s old church cookbooks to end the summer!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Canadian Bars

Mix together:

5 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup butter, softened

5 Tablespoons sugar

1 egg

Beat over boiling water until butter melts.


2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup coconut

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

Pour mixture into 9″ x 13″ pan.

Cover with the following mixture:

1/4 cup butter

3 Tablespoons milk

2 Tablespoons Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding mix

2 cups powdered sugar

Let stand 15 minutes to firm up.

Spread with:

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (you can use 1 package chocolate chips – I did)

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

This recipe has ingredients that you probably have in your cupboard.

The bottom layer is full of goodies!

The second layer barely covered the bottom crust. I’m beginning to think that even though the recipe calls for a 9″ x 13″ pan, I maybe should have used an 8″ x 8″ pan instead.

The top layer of chocolate did cover the second layer.

See how thin the bars are? When I looked up the other recipes and found the Nanaimo Bars, they were thicker.

While not a thick bar, these are definitely delicious and are a great no-bake option for a hot summer day. I might try using the smaller pan next time, to see how that goes. I have no doubt that before submitting the recipe for the old church cookbook, someone decided that they could get more bars and make them go further if they used a larger pan. Either way, they’re easy to make and really delicious. Try something new before this hot summer’s over – these no-bake Canadian Bars!



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Peach Pie Popsicles

Peach Pie Popsicles – say that 5 times fast! That’s what we’re making today – and they’re a treat you’re gonna want to make over and over again. I’ve tried a lot of different popsicles over the past couple of years (since buying an actual popsicle mold), and when my husband tasted these, he made the statement, “best yet”! Ok! Let’s share the recipe with all of you lucky people! It’s peach season, so make a big batch of these to last until the heat of summer subsides.

I’ve shared this photo before, but popsicles always make me think of this photo of my mom and her cousins eating popsicles. How classic is this?

They were all sure working those popsicles like there was no tomorrow! What a great way to keep cool in the summer! So cute!

When me and my sister were growing up, we would devour an entire crate of peaches every August. We would make peach crisp, peach jam, and peach pie. What better way to use even more peaches than by making peach popsicles?! Peach Pie Popsicles, even! I don’t know why we didn’t think of making nice, icy cold popsicles back then instead of turning on the oven and roasting in our non air-conditioned house while all those other desserts baked in the oven! I’ll be making these popsicles every August when the peaches are ripe from now on!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Pie Popsicles

Put all in blender:

2 fresh peaches or 2 cups frozen peaches (I have used both kinds and they were equally delicious)

1 1/2-2 cups almond milk or skim milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 T raw honey, or to taste

Put into each popsicle section in mold:

1/4 crumbled graham cracker

Taste to make sure it tastes like peach pie – or at least tastes good to you.


I don’t have too many photos of this process since it’s only putting everything in a blender and blending it. Then I just crumbled 1/4 of a graham cracker into each hole of the popsicle mold and poured the mixture in. I never use the lid with the slits for the sticks in it – I can never get the sticks out without a wrestling match. I just set my timer to 30 minutes and the popsicles are usually frozen enough for the sticks to stand up. If not, I go in 15 minute increments until it’s thick enough. If you don’t have a mold, just use some small paper cups or any kind of small cup.

The graham crackers don’t stay crisp, but they add the perfect flavor to add to that peach pie thing. These popsicles are so good and give you that wonderful peach flavor we all crave this time of the summer. You AND your kids are gonna love these Peach Pie Popsicles!



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Peach Smoothie

When peaches are in season, a Peach Smoothie is a great way to enjoy them while they’re here. In Minnesota, we get “crates” of them shipped here from other states where peaches are much more apt to grow, like Colorado or California. Peaches don’t grow so well here in this climate, although my husband swears that they had a white peach tree in their yard when he was growing up. Grandma and my mom always got boxes of peaches every August, and I have very fond memories of me and my sister eating peaches until we were sick. They were so good and they only showed up in August, so we had to enjoy them while we could. The crates are now made of cardboard, but the boxes that the peaches came in used to be made of wood, and Grandma’s family would get one of those crates every year and then preserve them for the winter by making things like Peach Jam, Canned Peaches, Peach Pie, Glazed Peach Pie, Peach Crisp, Peach Cake, the list goes on and on. They were also able to re-use everything about those old wooden peach crates. The crates themselves were used for storage in the garage or as a side table, because they had two separate sections that acted like shelves. We had two peach crates used for tables in our playhouse when we were growing up – they had been painted brown and came in handy for storing all kinds of necessities like doll clothes or books. One other thing – back then, the peaches that came in those crates were wrapped in pink tissue paper, and I think we all know what that was used for back in the days of the Great Depression when people used outhouses and couldn’t afford toilet paper. I have heard that for that reason alone, people would look forward to August and peach season!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Smoothie

Put into blender:

1 peach, cut up

1 small container of vanilla greek yogurt

1 cup skim milk

6 ice cubes

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

2 whole graham crackers, crushed (reserve half for putting around rim of glass)


Put reserved graham cracker crumbs onto a small plate.

Wet the rim with a slice of peach and then put edge of glass into graham cracker crumbs.

Pour smoothie into glass, add a squirt of your favorite canned whipped topping and a straw.

Oh, how I love peach season!

I still use my old blender from the late 1970’s.

The graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon help to make this smoothie taste like you’re enjoying one of those above-mentioned recipes like Glazed Peach Pie or Peach Crisp!

This really is a healthy, delicious, and very pretty snack. While there are many, many things you can and SHOULD make with peaches right now, this is just one more way to use peaches. Your family will love this Peach Smoothie – I guarantee it!



Streusel Cake

Today’s recipe for Streusel Cake came from one of my mom’s co-workers from years ago. She worked at one of the banks in town, and when someone would bring in a delicious treat to share with everyone, they would have to make obligatory copies of the recipe to give all of the co-workers. It wasn’t long after this photo of me and my mom was taken that she started working a the bank and met a lot of life-long friends who started out as co-workers. I think this must have been on our first Mother’s Day, because the writing on the bottom of the photo says 5 months. Since 5 months from my birth month is May, I’d guess that’s what’s happening here. I crack up every time I look at this picture and my face in it! I wonder what was going on behind the camera that made me look like that?! It must have been intense!

The dress mom’s wearing had large, orange-red flowers on it (the earrings matched). I loved it so much that when it wore out and she wouldn’t wear it anymore, I used the fabric and made a pillow out of it! It was so pretty and reminded me of mom. This is such an appropriate photo to share just before Mother’s Day!

This is definitely a special occasion cake, whether you want to have this for brunch or breakfast, or save it to have with your afternoon coffee.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Streusel Cake

For streusel, mix together and reserve:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup chopped nuts

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 cup butter, melted

For cake, mix together:

1 yellow cake mix

1 cup water

1/4 cup oil

3 eggs

(I just made the cake batter according to the instructions on the box I had because my cake mix called for softened butter instead of oil. I think you could do the same with any cake mix.)

Blend cake mix, water, oil, and eggs on low speed until moist.

Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Pour half of cake mixture into greased and floured 9″ x 13″ pan.

Sprinkle on half of the streusel mixture.

Add the rest of the cake mixture and then sprinkle the rest of the streusel mixture on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Yes – this is a LOT of streusel. It’s a pretty decadent recipe. I did say “special occasion”.

I used an offset spatula to spread the batter. Spreading the second layer is a little tricky. You may get some streusel mixed in to the batter, but it really doesn’t matter since the streusel will be sinking into the batter as it bakes.

Before and after baking – the streusel is basically like candy so it sinks in. How bad can that be? The first piece is tricky to get out because of this streusel, so don’t be surprised if it comes out in a couple of pieces. Oh well, you can’t let that go to waste. Someone has to taste it and make sure it’s good enough for mom. I’m just sayin’.

I wouldn’t hate a dollop of whipped cream on top of this cake. I did say “special occasion”, right? I think I said “special occasion”.

Mom will love this “special occasion” cake – with or without the dollop of whipped cream. It’s got the wonderful, sticky, candy-like streusel imbedded in that delicious cake. Wow. Mom will know how much you REALLY love her when you bake up this Streusel Cake!



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Cherry Cha Cha

Todays recipe for Cherry Cha Cha comes from my other grandma. I think this was another one of her tasty, but quick to make bowling night desserts, a lot like her Layered Pudding Delight that I’ve posted before. I used to love being at Grandma and Gramp’s house on Thursday nights when Gramp went bowling. The ladies would stay at the house of whoever was hosting to gossip and knit or crochet projects to be used for later Christmas gifts or given to lucky grandchildren to wear. When Grandma and Gramp were hosting, Grandma made sure that I always had some needles and a bit of yarn to work on, too. It made me feel like I was a part of the group and I’d sit and listen to the ladies talk and work on my project while they worked on theirs. When the men were done bowling, they’d hurry back to the house for coffee and a tasty dessert made by the hostess, where there would be the roar of laughter and even more talking around the dining room table or in the living room. When I think of it now, it seems like those must have been late nights for those still working. The laughing and the coffee and the desserts seemed to go on all night.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cherry Cha Cha


1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup margarine, melted (I used butter)

3 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Reserve 2 Tablespoons for topping.

Press rest of mixture into an 8″ x 8″ pan (Grandma wrote to put it into an 8″ x 13″ pan, but after putting the crumbs into it, it seemed way too big – I think she meant 8″ x 8″).



1/2 pint heavy whipping cream


4 cups miniature marshmallows

Carefully out half of this mixture on top of the chilled crust (I used a large spoon to put dollops on top and the spread it very gently over the top).

Put on top of this:

1 can cherry pie filling

Put on top of this:

the rest of the whipped cream mixture

Carefully spread it over the top of the cherry pie filling.

Top with rest of the graham cracker crumb mixture.

Refrigerate overnight.

Don’t forget to keep out a bit for the topping!

The miniature marshmallows go in looking like marshmallows, but after sitting overnight, they seem to meld into the whipped cream and make those layers firm up.

I used a small offset spatula to spread the layers. You really do have to be careful or you’ll dig into the layer underneath.

This has to be the right size pan – a bigger one would have made the dessert pretty thin.

It’s a pretty rich dessert, which means it’s perfect with a cup of coffee.

While it’s rich and full of whipped cream and pie filling, it still seems like a nice, light dessert. It’s delicious and is such an easy recipe with relatively few ingredients. Call up your group: sports team, friends, family, co-workers and have them over for a nice dessert and a cup of coffee. They’re sure to appreciate your offer of this Cherry Cha Cha with a chance to laugh, talk and gossip!


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The Easiest S’mores Pie Ever!

The other day I was thinking about how “s’mores crazy” everyone is these days, and I came up with this recipe for The Easiest S’mores Pie Ever! This recipe would be right up Grandma’s alley – if she liked s’mores – and I have no doubt that she would. It is seriously, ridiculously easy! I’m sure that someone has thought of this already, but I really like how easy this is. This is the last weekend (not technically, but school starts here on Tuesday) of summer, and we should really just keep on acting like it still IS summer until the leaves are falling off the trees. We get cold weather soon enough here in Minnesota, and we like to enjoy summer for as long as we possibly can. I say we make this last weekend a doozy and go crazy with this S’mores Pie! It’s so easy, you still have time to make this before and/or during the weekend.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

S’mores Pie

Mix together:

1 box of instant chocolate pudding

1 1/2 cups milk

Spread pudding on:

1 store-bought (gasp!) graham cracker pie crust – yes, you can use a store-bought crust only because it’s easier, but you can make your own and here is a great recipe for one!

Top with:

mini-marshmallows – as many as you can fit on top of the pie in a single layer

Put pie under broiler to brown marshmallows, or use a torch to do it.

Serve when the marshmallows are warm – you can wait, but the marshmallows cut easier while they’re warm.


I had graham crackers in the house so I just made one using this recipe instead of running to the store to buy one. I said this was the easiest, so just do whichever is easiest for you.

Next, in goes the pudding. So easy. You can also make the pudding from scratch, if you feel so inclined. This is a great recipe. It makes double what you need for a pie, so cut the recipe in half and use only 1 1/2 cups of milk to make the pudding.

Now put on the layer of marshmallows. Incredibly easy. Technically, you could also make these from scratch using this recipe. That would be delicious, but more time consuming and not as easy.

Into the oven and the broiler to brown the tops of the marshmallows. Ridiculously easy. If you have one of those fancy, schmancy kitchen torches, you could use that, but I think the oven is easier.

There you have it. Wow – this pie is so easy and SO GOOD!!! That bite of browned marshmallow with the chocolate and graham cracker – oh my – it is just too much! I think that if you have a store-bought crust, the total time to make this pie would be approximately 10 minutes. It took me a bit longer since I made the crust from scratch, I feel that a homemade graham cracker crust is just as easy and so much tastier. I think this is a delicious way to extend summer just a little bit longer. Make The Easiest S’mores Pie Ever and have a doozy of a weekend!






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Another After School Snack – Graham Crackers With Frosting

These treats were something that my other grandma made me for a snack when I was growing up. We lived right next door to my other grandma and gramp for the first 8 years of my life and I would go to their house after school from kindergarten through second grade. She would make these for me for an after school snack while I watched the cartoons “Yogi Bear” and “The Flintstones”.  She taught me how to make them and eventually I made them for all of my kids after school while they were growing up. There really isn’t a name for these, so we’ll call them Graham Crackers With Frosting. All three of my kids grew up having these as an after school snack all throughout their grade school, middle school, and high school years. My son says they’re absolutely necessary, even though they really were a special treat because there was usually the obligatory graham crackers and peanut butter to snack on while watching the “Garfield and Friends” cartoon after school. And if it’s at all possible, he’d still like the people in charge to bring back that cartoon. He’s an adult but he’d still watch that show every day if it was on somewhere out there in TV land.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Graham Crackers With Frosting

Combine for frosting:

1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on how thick you want the frosting)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla, peppermint, lemon or any flavor you like)

2 Tablespoons milk

Stir and spread on graham crackers.


These cracker snacks really are incredibly easy to make.


Mix up the frosting and spread it on the crackers. Done. You could also try different kinds of graham cracker for this. Chocolate or cinnamon would be nice.


You can make the frosting as thick as you like by adding more powdered sugar. Just remember – the longer they sit, the thicker the frosting gets.


These are even fun to make open-faced. Add mini chocolate chips, colored sugar (Minnesota Viking colors here), or sprinkles to match an appropriate holiday (Halloween is coming).


This may be a simple snack, but they sure are good! I hope you give these a try. They’re a GREAT after school snack – even for grown ups. Turn on some cartoons, pour a big glass or milk, and munch on a few of these with your kids!



Chocolate Cookies

This recipe is another one from the tiny book I found at my sister’s in January. I know I say this every time, but I can’t believe all of the great recipes that have been made from that little book!! Those recipes all make a nice small batch, just right for sharing with friends. The funny thing is that I remember Grandma telling of baking day and how they would make all the bread and baked goods for the week ahead. I would think if most families baked that way, they would have wanted to get as much done as possible on that one day. Maybe that’s the beauty of these smaller recipes – they could make a quick, small batch for a small group coming or for at the last minute. Here is another delicious one for Chocolate Cookies. It makes such a delicious, dainty cookie, just perfect with coffee or tea.


Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Cookies

Stiffly beat:

3 egg whites (not until dry)

Fold in:

1 cup powdered sugar, a little at a time

Then fold in:

1 cup graham crackers, crushed

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla

Next fold in:

6 ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate, after cooling slightly

Drop by spoonful onto buttered baking sheet (I used parchment paper and I was glad I did – after baking I just pulled the parchment sheet onto the cooling rack – they did stick a bit and are pretty fragile, so it was easier to peel them off of the paper than use a spatula).

Bake at 325 for 12-14 minutes.


Again – this uses pretty simple ingredients that you probably have around the house.


All the folding is key here to keep the batter as fluffy as possible. When adding the chocolate, keep folding!


I made these pretty small, using just a couple of teaspoons.


I ended up with 31 cookies. Good thing I didn’t use my trusty scoop – I only would have gotten a dozen!!! Using the parchment paper really helped them come off the baking sheet easily.


These are dainty all right – and a bit fragile. I suggest you just go ahead and eat them all right away. They get a bit crumbly when stored.


I’d say that these cookies have just the right bite of chocolate. If you have to store them, they don’t really keep so well, so yes, I think it’s best to eat them. All of them. Go ahead and make these and see if  you don’t agree with me!




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Layered Pudding Delight

The recipe for today is from my other grandma. My grandpa was a bowler, and he was on a bowling team for years that would get together every Thursday night. I really wish I had a photo of the bowling team in their shirts, but I don’t. So in honor of the start of baseball season, this photo of Gramp when he played baseball for his town team will have to do. He played on the team for the town of Verndale. How cool is this? I absolutely love it! It looks so official, and I’m thinking this was sometime around the 1920’s or 1930’s.


This pic is just so great. It really doesn’t look much different than the uniforms of today. Well, maybe a little different. They do wear throw back uniforms occasionally for MLB games now. Ok – so we know he liked to play sports. Back to the bowling story . . .

The men on the bowling team would bowl (this included the obligatory bowling shirts with their names on them) and the women would take turns gathering at one of their houses for chatting and crafts like knitting and crocheting. After the men were done bowling, they would all end up back at the house of whoever was hosting that week, and they would all have a dessert and coffee before heading home. It was a great social event, and because they took turns at each couple’s house, the women would have to come up with new and interesting recipes when their turn to host came around. Because of this, there was a lot of recipe swapping going on.

My grandpa would also occasionally take all of his grandkids bowling, and this was a source of never-ending frustration for me. I was not the best bowler. He’d try to tell me what I was doing wrong, and while I understood what he was saying, I never seemed able to fix it and do it the right way. He was incredibly frustrated by that because he was an amazing bowler and it seemed so simple to him. I was never in it for the high scores – I was having too much fun, right or wrong.

Gramp was a great bowler and I know he LOVED to bowl and get together with his friends, and Grandma loved getting together with those girlfriends for an evening of chatting and crafting, too. This Layered Pudding Delight has to be from those bowling team nights and that recipe swapping.


This one is so good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Layered Pudding Delight

Graham Crackers

Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding

2 cups milk

1 cup Cool Whip

Cherry Pie Filling

Line a 9″ square pan with whole graham crackers, breaking crackers if necessary.

Prepare vanilla pudding with milk as directed on package.

Let stand 5 minutes and then blend in Cool Whip.

Spread 1/2 of pudding mixture over crackers.

(Here’s where the recipe was missing a bit – it seemed like there should be another layer – and I had to look online to find another recipe. Luckily I looked before starting to make this, so I also knew to only put in 1 cup of Cool Whip or I would have added the whole container.)

Add another cracker layer and top it with the remaining pudding mixture.

Spoon and spread the cherry pie filling over the top of the pudding mixture.

Chill at least 3 hours (overnight would be better).


The graham crackers line up pretty well. I’m sure glad I checked for another recipe and found that there should only be 1 cup of Cool Whip added!


Here is pudding layer #2 – on to the cherry pie filling over the top.


It was a little soft, so I’d recommend letting it chill overnight.


This would be a great dessert for summertime – it’s no bake! It’s SO easy, and SO creamy, and SO delicious, and SO pretty! Try this easy one when you’re running off to your next sporting event – you won’t believe how fast and easy and good this is!





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No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. Pumpkin is synonymous with this time of year. There are just so many great things to do with it. I’ve posted a few recipes over the years. I’ve done Pumpkin Pie – the Chiffon Kind, Pumpkin Pie Dessert, Pumpkin Cake, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie , and Autumn Gold Pumpkin Cake. I’ve done Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds, Freezing Pumpkin, and Knit Pumpkins. I haven’t even done just your basic Pumpkin Pie yet. Here is another great fast and easy recipe for one more kind of pumpkin pie. This No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie is a great pie to do last-minute.

No Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie

No Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie 2

I love how easy this one is!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie

Beat together for 1-2 minutes:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Blend in:

1 can pumpkin

Pour into 9″ graham cracker crust (I’m not going judge you if you use a store-bought one and not make your own. Not much anyway.)

Chill 6 hours or overnight.


Here is the recipe for a graham cracker crust that I used.


The filling is so smooth and luscious.


I wanted to use my pretty milk glass pie plate, so, as usual, I had some graham crumbs and filling leftover. I put crumbs in the bottom of the glasses and made 3 desserts for dinner that night.


Topped with some whipped cream and more crumbs – delicious dessert!


It’s a soft pie and the cream cheese gives it a bit of a tangy taste.


Any of the pumpkin recipes mentioned at the top of this post would be great additions to your Thanksgiving table, but this is also a great recipe. I love that you can make it VERY easily the night before (you could even stretch it to two days before your gathering). Done. Ready to go. You’re going to love this one and so will your guests!






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