Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

String Bean Royal

String Bean Royal (with no “e”?) is similar to the classic casserole we all make this time of year using green beans and the obligatory cream of mushroom soup and French fried onions. I have made one kind of Green Bean Casserole (not the classic) but this one has the added flavor of onion and cheddar cheese. While I LOVE the crunch of the French fried onions that we all put on top of the classic, this one used regular sliced onion on it, with the deliciousness of shredded cheddar over the top of it all. I mean, how bad can that be? Not bad. It’s so good! And the best part of all with this recipe – it’s another ridiculously easy one! Yes! We like that! Easy, easy, easy! Did I mention that this one is easy? I think I did. It’s so great!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

String Bean Royal

Drain:

1 or 2 cans of string beans (or green beans – I used 2 cans)

Pour into a greased baking dish.

Mix together and toss with the beans:

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup rich milk (they probably mean whole milk here, but I used 2% milk)

Slice thinly and layer on top of beans:

onion (I used 1/2 of a small onion)

Top with:

grated cheddar cheese (I used about half of an 8 oz. package of shredded cheddar)

It didn’t say what temperature to bake at, so I baked it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Once you have the green beans, milk, and cream of mushroom soup combined, on goes the layer of sliced onions.

Next is the layer of shredded cheddar cheese. I used about half of an 8 ounce package, but next time I’d just use the whole thing. Can you really ever have TOO MUCH cheese?

Out of the oven and it’s bubbly and hot and the cheese has melted – oh my! See – I think more cheese might cover ALL of the creamy goodness – so use the whole 8 ounce package of shredded cheddar.

This might be a new classic for your thanksgiving dinner!

It. Is. So. Good.

This is the easiest and most delicious side dish you’ll ever put in your mouth! Making a Thanksgiving dinner is a lot of work. Why not go easy on a few of those classic dishes that everyone loves and can’t do without? Your guests, friends, and family are going to LOVE this String Bean Royal – and you will, too!

 

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Chili

I have been making this Chili for as long as we’ve been married. It came from my old red Betty Crocker cookbook, and it was a staple during my kids’ growing up years. I’ve made it hundreds of times. Seriously – HUNDREDS of times. I usually double this recipe because we always want leftovers, and chili is great for lunches the next day. It’s great to have in the slow cooker ready for warming up after any winter outdoor activity: Skiing, sledding, skating, snowman making. It thaws the icicles hanging from noses and mustaches after said outdoor activities. Perfect. The Super Bowl is in Minnesota this year, and it’s going to be cold – single digit cold – so this would be great to serve at your Super Bowl party. Just keep it warm in the slow cooker and line up the fixins. This is another very easy recipe and it’s ridiculously delicious.

This is so good on a cold winter day OR night!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chili

Cook and stir in 3 quart saucepan until light brown:

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Drain, if necessary.

Stir in:

1 (16 ounce) can whole tomatoes with liquid

2 medium stalks celery, sliced

2-3 Tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I used red pepper flakes)

Heat to boiling.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.

Stir in beans, heat to boiling, simmer 15 minutes until hot.

(I usually do this in a crock pot or slow cooker – I still brown the beef, onion, and garlic but put all ingredients – even the beans – into the slow cooker all day on low until we’re ready for it.)

This batch was done in the crock pot and I just put all the ingredients right in.

Here we are – ready to go. Turn it on low and let it go. If you need it faster, obviously turn it up to high.

We like sour cream, shredded cheddar, and green onions for fixin’s on our chili. The possibilities are endless: crushed tortilla chips, Frito chips, additional hot sauce, pickled jalapeno, etc. On and on.

It’s going to be cold this weekend, people. You need to have a Super Bowl party, invite some friends and family, and let them thaw out with this delicious, warming bowl of comforting goodness. Try this Chili and you’ll see that it’s one of those recipes that’s a “lifer” that you’ll make hundreds of times!

 

 

 

 

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Bean Salad

Bean Salad is one of those recipes that Grandma neglected to finish. At least I think she did. I’m sure when she jotted this one down, it was just for her – to be able to remember it herself – never thinking that maybe someone else would want to know how to make it someday. The way this one is worded makes me think she knew just what to do with this. She just wrote down the basics and that was it, but I’ll elaborate on that as we go along. This is another one of her weird recipes that seems incomplete, but ends up totally delicious. I haven’t really seen too many recipes for beans used in this way, but I did post a 3 Bean Salad,  in the first year of the blog. This sounds like it would be tasty with either a large Sunday dinner, or the cold meat and cheese dinner she would serve once in a while. Let’s try this Bean Salad and see how it goes.

This really is a tasty salad.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bean Salad

Boil in 2 bullion cubes (I used chicken bullion since she doesn’t say what kind – also don’t know what she meant by “etc”):

Beans (There is no quantity here – I used about 1 1/2 pounds of frozen beans from our garden.)

It says to add onions, so I added 1 chopped onion to the beans while they were boiling. (I told you this was a bit of a strange one.)

Next it says to use a mayonnaise dressing plus mustard. I used the mayonnaise dressing that I always use on Cabbage Salad, but added a Tablespoon of regular yellow mustard.

That’s it. I know. Weird. But tasty. Seriously.

Boil the beans with 2 bullion cubes – ok . . . ?

Add onions – ok . . .?

Mayonnaise dressing plus mustard – ok . . . ?

That’s it. Funny – it sure is keeping with Grandma’s theme of really easy to make and really good to eat.

I’m not sure if this is what it’s supposed to be or look like, but it’s the best I can do. Sometimes I wish I could just ask – is this right?

I guess the answer is – it’s good! It’s crazy, but right or wrong, this is a delicious and very different way to use green beans. It’s great for any time of year, but especially now that our gardens are plentiful with fresh green beans. This salad is the prefect side dish with pretty much any main dish. So there you go. Bean Salad – I say it’s close enough!

 

 

 

 

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Beef Stew

Are you tired of eating leftover turkey? I have a great recipe for you today that is NOT turkey and that is perfect for the upcoming holiday season when time is of the essence and you don’t have a lot of time to make a great meal. This recipe for Old-Time Beef Stew is from an old cookbook series that my mom had years ago (and I now have in my possession) from Better Homes and Gardens, called the Creative Cooking Library. The book that this one came out of is called So-Good Meals, and believe it or not, the section it’s under is called “Meals Men Like”. Seriously? Um – women like them, too. I know it was a different time, but wow. Anyway, there are some great recipes in these books, and this is one that I’ve been making since I could write like I did on this one to use “no thickening”. The recipe is for making this in a Dutch oven, but I use my crock pot and just throw it all in.

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This is one of my all-time favorites!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Old-Time Beef Stew

If making this in a Dutch oven, brown the meat:

2 Tablespoons fat (I use olive oil)

2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1 1/2″ cubes (I will sometimes use a more economical round steak for this)

Heat the fat and brown the meat on all sides.

Add:

1 medium onion, sliced

1 clove garlic (they say to take it out, but I mince it and leave it in)

2 cups boiling water

1 Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 or 2 bay leaves

Dash allspice or cloves

Cover and simmer (not boil) for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove bay leaf and garlic.

Add:

6 carrots, cut in chunks

1 pound small white onions (or whole onions cut in chunks)

6 medium potatoes, cubed (optional)

Cover and simmer 30-45 minutes longer or until everything in the pot is tender.

If desired, thicken the gravy (I clearly thought when I first made this in about 4th grade, that this step wasn’t necessary).

Combine in a jar:

1/4 cup cold water

2 Tablespoons flour

Shake to blend.

Stir into mixture.

Cook, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens and boils.

Gently cook 5 minutes more.

To cook in crock pot:

You can brown the meat for more flavor, but I don’t. I’m all about quick and easy. I just put everything into the crock pot in the morning, turn it on low and let it go until dinner time. I never thicken it.

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Please excuse my very well used crock pot – it IS clean. I promise. I just put in the cubes of meat – no browning.

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Next in go the veggies and spices. Put on the cover and turn it on! Dinner is done!

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This is really more like a soup when you make it in the crock pot. The Dutch oven method makes more of a stew. You could serve this with a green salad, some crusty bread or crackers, and some fruit.

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There’s nothing better on a cold winter’s day when you’ve been running around shopping, or baking, or wrapping. Throw this all into the crock pot, run your errands or do your chores, and dinner is ready when you are!! This stew is delicious and I know it will become one of your favorites, too! Well, your man will like it. Oh come on, everyone will like this stew!!!

 

 

 

 

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Meatloaf

Everybody loves Meatloaf, everybody has their favorite, and it’s usually the way mom made it. My family has a “thing” for this meatloaf. It’s been a staple on our menu since our first child was little and I’ve been making it ever since. Whenever someone gets to request a special meal, it’s usually meatloaf. With mashed potatoes and gravy. From a packet. (I know, I know, it’s store-bought but I started making this when I didn’t know HOW to make gravy yet and it’s FAST to make and get on the table.) And frozen peas. They have to be the frozen ones. And there has to be ketchup. So funny – it’s always the same. I guess that meal brings up those warm and comforting feelings of family at the table and the love that’s around that table, too. Being around the table for dinner was something we were adamant about. We tried to have dinner together every night and I think we succeeded at that. We had unbelievably busy kids in a LOT of activities, but dinner together was just mandatory, and we made it happen. It was important to hear about everybody’s day, how classes were going, how sports were going, how the play was coming along, what was going on with their friends, what music was being tackled and/or listened to, and TALK to each other. I think it’s been one of the things that’s made our family very close. We kept it up through the college years (all 3 kids stayed fairly close to home for that) and still try to get together for family dinners every week or two.

I’ve made meatloaf this way since I was in high school and I don’t have it written down, so I’ll just type it out here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Meatloaf

1 pound ground beef (I use the leanest I can get)

1 egg

1/2 onion, finely chopped (or you can sneak in dried minced onion if one of your children doesn’t want to eat onions – ha!)

6 saltines, crushed

1/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper

Ketchup for the top

Mix all ingredients together and pat into loaf pan or mound onto baking sheet.

I squirt some ketchup on top before baking. Sometimes I take a brush and smooth is over the top, sometimes just squirt a squiggle (that’s a technical term) down the top of it.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-90 minutes, depending on how thick your loaf is. I usually cut through the middle to make sure it’s done.

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There is nothing easier than meatloaf. Mix it all up and put it in a pan. Done. Into the oven.

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My family can’t get enough of this and therefore, there are never leftovers. Ever.

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This is total comfort food. Make a meatloaf and get the family together for a meal. Make it something that will become their favorite and they’ll beg for over and over again. It’s amazing how fast they can get to the table when the favorite meal is what you’re serving. That’s where the best family times are – at the table – eating, talking, laughing, loving. There’s nothing better!

 

 

 

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Turmeric Pickles

The recipe for today is another old one, judging by the use of the fountain pen. I’m sure Grandma wrote this recipe card out as she was preparing for her life as a wife and mother.  This photo of Grandma was taken on the farm where she grew up, about the time she got married.

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I’m sure as a young bride she was making new and interesting things like these pickles for her handsome new husband! These Turmeric Pickles seem a bit exotic for Grandma. They use a lot of spices and some of them are a bit unusual. I didn’t know what cassia buds were, so I had to look it up. Cassia buds are the unopened flowers of the cinnamon tree – a bit more floral than regular cinnamon. Well, I was doing these right away and didn’t want to order them online and have to wait, or spend an entire day driving around trying to find them, so I just used stick cinnamon.

Turmeric Pickles

Turmeric Pickles 2

I can’t wait to taste these!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Turmeric Pickles

Put in salt water for 2 hours:

1 dozen cucumbers, sliced very thin

1/2 dozen onions, sliced very thin

Drain.

Boil all together:

2 cups white vinegar

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon whole mustard seed

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cassia buds (I used a half of a cinnamon stick in each jar instead)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

Add drained cucumbers and onions to spice mixture.

Heat thoroughly.

Put in jars and seal.

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, these should be in a hot water bath for 10 minutes when sealing the jars.

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My preference is a mandolin to get nice, thin slices.

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I only made a half recipe and it still looked like a mountain of cucumbers.

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This was my biggest bowl holding all the cucumbers and onions.

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Into the hot water bath they go!

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Use old towels unless you don’t care about getting yellow stains on your good ones. Turmeric does stain, and one of these jars leaked a bit before the “pop” and being sealed.

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The turmeric immediately starts to turn the cucumbers a golden yellow.

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They’re so beautiful!! I can’t wait to taste these spicy pickles!! Try this very old and exotic recipe with your cucumbers this year!

 

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Cucumbers in Vinegar

Today I’m wishing a Happy Birthday to my other grandma. This is such a great photo of her with her little sister. It says “Shoe Off” on the bottom of it, and you can see that the little sister has lost a shoe in the mud and Grandma is laughing about it!! They have on their “Sunday best”, and it looks like it may be springtime or an Easter Sunday photo, as you can see by the beautiful big hair bows and fancy dresses. I’m glad someone took this photo, while being not too happy, I’m sure, about their being in the mud in those clothes! So cute!

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Whoever took this also made sure to get the car in the photo!!! Ha!

I don’t think there’s an official name for today’s recipe. There really isn’t even an official recipe for this. These Cucumbers in Vinegar (as I’m calling them) come from this grandma. I always felt that these cucumbers were kind of an old-fashioned dish. This is the smell of summer in my other grandma and gramp’s house. They always had a great garden and they grew a lot of cucumbers and onions. When I was there for dinner or just staying over in the summer, I was in charge of making these. Since there’s no recipe card, I’ll just type it out here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cucumbers in Vinegar

Thinly slice a cucumber or two (I found a gigantic one hiding behind my vine and used that).

Sprinkle 2 -3 Tablespoons salt over top and mix thoroughly.

Let sit for 30 minutes.

Drain water (rinse salt off if desired – I leave it on).

Add 1/2 of an onion, thinly sliced.

Cover with apple cider vinegar.

Add 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Enjoy the fruits (or veggies) of your summer labor in the garden!

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I might use the mandolin for slicing the cucumber really thin, but this one was so big, I used a knife.

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I try to also slice the onion as thinly as possible.

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Mix in the onion and pepper after draining the water off.

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I used about 3/4 cup of vinegar for this batch because it was such a big cucumber, but I don’t think you typically need to use that much.

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These vinegar-y cucumbers are almost like a very quick pickle. They actually get better after a couple of days – if they last that long. The smell of the vinegar and onion and cucumber brings be back to the summer evenings of my childhood and helping grandma make these for dinner. Another old-fashioned comfort food!

 

 

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Split Pea Soup

Today’s recipe is one that both of my grandmas would have appreciated. They both came out of the Great Depression, and they had to be frugal. This picture of Grandma says it was taken in February of 1936. I LOVE this photo! There is also a photo of grandma and her 3 sisters sitting in this same snow bank. I LOVE that one, too, but they must have also taken individual photos of all the girls. I love her little hat, and her striped mittens, and the way she’s sitting in the snow. It looks like they had a lot of snow that year. I’d like to think that they all went into the house, after posing for photos in the snow bank, and had a nice bowl of soup!

Split Pea Soup

Both grandmas would have loved that I was being so frugal. I made Split Pea Soup with the ham bone from our Christmas ham. This soup could also be under the heading of Money Saving Meal,s like the Turkey Soup I posted in January, using the carcass from our Thanksgiving turkey. I just put the carcass of the turkey and the ham bone into plastic freezer bags after we’ve taken all the meat off that we can, and put them in the freezer until later when we need some nice, warming soup. This Split Pea Soup is so economical and so good. We’ve had such cold weather here in Minnesota this winter, that I’ve found myself making as many soups as I can. I don’t really have a recipe card, so I’ll just type it out here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Split Pea Soup

Put into crock pot:

1 pound of split peas, rinsed (make sure you inspect them for anything you don’t want in there, like small rocks)

1 ham bone (you could also just use cut up ham)

4 carrots, cut in 1″ chunks

4 celery stalks, cut in 1″ chucks

1 large onion, cut in 1″ chunks

3-4 medium potatoes, cut in 1″ chunks (I had 1 gigantic russet that I cut up for this)

Salt and pepper to taste

Thyme (if desired, but I didn’t use this since our ham was from Christmas and had spices from the glaze on it – our Christmas ham glaze is full of cinnamon and cloves)

4-8 quarts water (depending on how much you can fit into your crock pot – leave an inch or two at the top of the top)

Put on lid.

Turn on high and let cook 6-8 hours, depending on how hot your crock pot cooks (I had mine on all day).

Take out ham bone and any bits that fall off of the bone.

Most of the meat will fall off the bone and you can easily pull it apart.

Return meat to crock pot and serve.

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Split peas are such a beautiful color – my favorite color!

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I’ve kept the ham bone in the freezer since Christmas, but this will work with an Easter ham bone, too!

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It’s so healthy and cheap – most of this stuff you have in your frig – just keep a bag of split peas handy.

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It seems like a lot of ingredients and water, but it does all fit into the crock pot.

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This soup is delicious. Period. Get this going, go out and play in the snow, and then come into your nice warm house and have a steaming bowl of this nice, warming soup.

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Baked Beans

This weekend is the official start of summer. That means we’re all going to have the usual festivities to both attend and give: picnics, parties, celebrations of all kinds. Some of us might even be lucky enough to be “going to the lake”. This picture is of one certain trip to Big Pine Lake that Grandma and Grandpa took the family on when my mom and my uncle were little. Mom’s grandma and grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins all went on this trip and it was a big deal. She still talks about it today. When taking part in these festivities, there is one thing that is absolutely essential – FOOD!

Big Pine Lake

There are few things as essential to the recipes you need in your back pocket as Baked Beans. They’re one of the mandatory summer food items that show up at just about every celebration. Yes – it’s easy to open up a can and doctor them up, but this recipe is so easy you may never open a can again. This recipe comes from another one of Grandma’s sisters. I think it’s the recipe Grandma used because I remember she baked hers in the oven, and that’s how these are done.

Baked Beans

I have to admit that I had never done baked beans from scratch before, but I loved the ones that Grandma used to make and so I was all for giving it a try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Baked Beans

Soak 2 cups of dried navy beans overnight (I didn’t get going soon enough so I did a quick method that I found here).

Drain.

Cover beans with water and cook until tender (this took me about a half hour or so).

Add:

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons molasses

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 medium onion, diced

2 Tablespoons ketsup

1/3 pound salt pork or bacon, diced (I used bacon)

Boil 1/2 hour more.

Put beans in casserole (I also covered them with foil) and bake at 300-325 degrees for 4 hours.

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This is after mixing everything in but before boiling for 1/2 hour.

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After boiling for 1/2 hour, things are starting to look mighty good.

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When the baking time is done, the bacon is crispy and the beans have plumped up and the whole thing has almost caramelized.

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I have to say these are some of the best baked beans I’ve ever had.

This is the way they should be done.

Give this one a try – you’ll be glad to have these at your next summer celebration!

 

 

 

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