Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Freezing Pumpkin

I’d like to think that once Grandma’s family had a freezer, they did things like freezing pumpkins and garden vegetables. I don’t think they had a freezer at the time that this photo was taken!

action pic of Johnson kids

It’s a bit blurry, but I LOVE IT!!! These were the days of having to sit still when the photo was taken. You can tell that these kids were in constant motion! I THINK Grandma is the little blur in the bottom left. They probably did a lot of canning to preserve their garden harvest. I’ve never even thought of canning pumpkin, since we have the convenience of the freezer. I don’t remember stories of them eventually being able to freeze things, but she must have known how to do it. The year we grew so many pumpkins in Grandma and Grandpa’s farm garden, my mom wanted to try to make a pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin and I’m sure Grandma helped her figure out how. There were so many pumpkins, we had to find a way to preserve them, so we figured out how to Freeze Pumpkin. Like many of these recipes, it’s pretty easy to do – it just takes some time.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Freezing Pumpkin

Pick a pumpkin that you want to freeze for pie making at a later time.


It’s hard to cut up this gorgeous pumpkin!


This pumpkin is about the right size for one pie.


I split it in half and scoop out the “guts” and seeds. Make sure you keep the seeds for roasting! Check out my post for making Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds.


Cut into pieces and roast in a 400 degree oven for 40-60 minutes or until pumpkin is tender.


Scrape flesh off of rind and put into food processor.


I was able to fit all of the pumpkin into the processor at once. Give it a whir until the pumpkin is as smooth as you want it.


I usually fill the freezer bags with 2 cups so it’s enough for one pie. There’s always some that stays in the bag, so I add 1/4 cup extra to be sure you have enough pumpkin in the end. You can also take the pumpkin out of the bag before it’s thawed so that none stays in the bag, but I seem to forget to do that, and then I end up short.


When the freezer bags are full, I freeze them flat so they take up less room in the freezer. That’s it. Not hard at all, it just takes a little time. I’ll be making a pie with this pumpkin in a couple of weeks. You’ll love the fresh pumpkin in your pie when you try this!



Hilda’s Donuts

When I was little, we lived right next door to my other grandma and grandpa in town. We lived in the upstairs apartment of a house, above the people who owned the house, Hilda and Mike. They were very fascinating to me, they were very old, and they were Norwegian. Mike smoked a pipe and liked to drink his coffee out of his saucer – as in cup and saucer – that saucer. I had heard of people doing that, but he was the last and only person I ever really saw do it. I remember he sure liked to slurp it! Hilda used to make great treats to have with that coffee. I remember her big, almost fluffy molasses cookies that were topped with sparkling sugar, and these amazing donuts made from scratch. They’ve become another one of our family traditions. My other grandma used to make them for us, and then she passed the recipe on to my mom. You can see how well used my mom’s copy of this recipe for Hilda’s Donuts is. This was one treat my mom sent with my dad when he went deer hunting, so it’s appropriate that we traditionally make them in the fall. My sister still makes these often, too, and since she was recently home for a weekend visit, I asked her for a lot of advice. I haven’t made these in years, but she’d like to start a drive-thru donut shop some day! My daughters helped me make this batch, so now they know how to make them, too.

Hilda's Donuts

These donuts really are a taste of home.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hilda’s  Donuts

Mix in order given:

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons shortening (I don’t use shortening anymore, so I used 2 Tablespoons of melted butter)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together and add:

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 cups of all-purpose flour (this is one thing I had to ask my sister, how much to add, since there is no amount on the card)

Roll out to 1/4 ” thick on floured board and cut with a donut cutter (I rolled out half at a time and then put the leftovers from each half together in the end so they only have to get rolled once again).

Fry in melted lard, heated to 375 degrees F.

You can use oil, if you prefer, but like my sister said, when you only make these once every 10 years, why not use the good stuff. Lard doesn’t smell so great when you’re frying, but I think sometimes oil can give them a funny taste and I prefer lard for this.


It seems like a lot of liquid until you add the flour. It seems like it will be sticky, but when you start to roll it out on a floured surface, it wont be.


This is my old donut cutter that I’ve had since before we were married. It looks a little worse for wear, but it still works.


Don’t fry too many donuts at a time. It lowers the temperature of the lard when you put too many in.


I always let them drain for a few seconds on a baking sheet covered with paper towel.


This was a beautiful batch! I dip them in a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon.


These are the best eaten warm, but they might last a couple of days, if you’re lucky. They’re definitely a taste of home for me. I have so many great memories of loved ones associated with these donuts: Hilda and Mike, Grandma D., Dad, Mom, my sister, and now making them with my kids. I hope these donuts continue to be family tradition for them, now that they can make them, too!



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Knit Pumpkins

We’re exploring a craft project today! I saw this pattern on Pinterest, and I just had to try it. It comes from the blog, The Sitting Tree, and you can find the original pattern here. These are knit on 4 needles, somewhat like the Norwegian snowflake mittens I’m famous for (more on that at a later date). I’m not going to post the pattern here, so if you want to make these adorable Jack Be Little Pumpkins, you’ll have to go to and check out the pattern yourself. Crafts have always been a big part of my life. Both of my grandmas helped me in my crafting. The grandma who babysat me when I was little always had me doing coloring, drawing, cutting, and pasting. Even though they lived in town, they were subscribers to The Farm Journal Magazine, and every month there was a craft project in there that we would do. The other grandma who lived on the farm had me do crafts when I would go out there to visit. I’m sure it was something to keep me busy while they were working on their chores. They both helped teach me how to knit, and my very first project was a scarf that I knit for my grandpa for Christmas. I still have it! Holidays are such a great excuse to craft, and these pumpkins are the perfect decoration for October thru Thanksgiving. They’re simple and fast to make, too!

Here are the pumpkins as I made them:

Knit Pumpkins


On The Sitting Tree blog, she also knit the stem, but I used a piece of a real branch for the stem (just snipped with my clippers), some green wire wrapped around a pen for the vines, and I cut the leaf (patterns for pumpkin leaves can be found online) out of felt. They were all glued on with my favorite glue, E6000.


I found that using different size needles and different kinds of yarn can change the size and texture of the pumpkin.


After stitching around the top of the stuffed pumpkin and pulling it tight, you can also change the shape of the pumpkin by how tight you pull it. Pulling it tighter makes a flatter pumpkin and leaving it more loose makes the pumpkin more round.


These little pumpkins are just so cute! They are a natural and non-commercial decoration that will last more than just one year. This is a fast and easy craft so perfect for the fall and I’ve already made so many of these to give away to family and friends. A set of two or three of these of different shapes and sizes would also make a great hostess gift for this time of year!


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Pumpkin Cake

We grew pumpkins in the big garden on Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. Technically, I suppose, it wasn’t in the garden, it was in a field. This is a photo of me and my sister and our cousin with some of the pumpkins (which seem to be beautifully shaped ones).

Pumpkin Cake

We are sitting on a hay rack and you can even see one of Grandpa’s cows in the background! So cute! We had so many pumpkins one year, that we took them to our house and sold a bunch of them. We also had enough that same year to cook them to freeze and use all winter. From time to time, ever since that fall, I will buy pumpkins, bake them, and freeze the pumpkin flesh for using at a later time. I use the pumpkin in recipes instead of butter or oil (especially good in brownie recipes) and then, of course, for the usual pumpkin recipes for pies, cakes, muffins, and bread. There are a lot of pumpkin pie recipes in Grandma’s file, but not a lot of pumpkin cakes. This recipe for Pumpkin Cake is so good, you’ll want to make it all year round – not just this time of year.

Pumpkin Cake


Pumpkin Cake 2

Pumpkin Cake Frosting

Pumpkin Cake Frosting 2

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Cake

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon allspice

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cooking oil (I used canola oil)

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup pumpkin

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

Cream together oil and sugar.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each.

Add dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin, to creamed mixture.

Grease and flour three 9″ cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

For a bundt pan about 50 minutes.

For cupcakes about 20 minutes.

I made cupcakes with this batch and got 24.

I’m going to try to make a layer cake at a later time, but for today I used the cream cheese icing recipe on the bottom of the card.

Cream Cheese Icing

Mix together until smooth:

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese

1 box (3 3/4 cups) powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 cup butter

Spread or pipe on top of cake or cupcakes.


I mixed the dry ingredients first and then the wet. Getting everything step ready separately and ready to go makes it easier to add the ingredients alternately in the end.


The cupcakes did rise a bit when baked . . .


. . . making the perfect platform for the icing!


I had to add the pumpkin decoration on top.


Any pan you bake it in, this recipe is delicious, and again, one of my new favorites! Try this one today and it will be your new favorite, too!


Rollo Pretzel Treats for Halloween

I’m always on the lookout for holiday themed treats. These Rollo Pretzel Treats are all over the internet and Pinterest right now and I just had to try to make them. They’re addictive. You can be creative with these and make them fun for any holiday (I just happen to decide to make them now for Halloween), so you can have them all the time. Every holiday. Every weekend. Every weekday. All the time. Because you’re going to want to. They’re ridiculous. These are so easy to do and you can get an assembly line thing going and do a lot of them really fast. They would also make great holiday gifts. There really isn’t a recipe, I just looked online and found a few that showed how long to have them in the oven. I did also see them made in the microwave.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rollo Pretzel Treats for Halloween

1 bag of Rollo candies or Hershey’s Kisses

1 bag of pretzel snaps or twists

1 bag of decoration: candy corn, m & m’s, pecans or other nuts, etc.

Lay out the pretzels on a cookie sheet (I used one with sides – they do slide around a bit).

Unwrap and place the Rollo candies on top of the pretzels.

Bake at 350 degrees for 3-4 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately press decoration into top of Rollo candies.

Let cool.


Line them up!


You have to be careful pushing the decoration in and not getting chocolate all over your fingers.


They are so cute!


When I ran out of Rollo candies, I used Hershey’s Kisses and made little sandwiches topped with sprinkles.


After they cool, the shine goes away, but that doesn’t diminish the addictiveness of these little hummers. Make some this weekend – and then hide them!!!!



Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving 13

I’m grateful for each and every one of you readers!

Thanks so much for reading!

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie

This recipe is one more easy pumpkin pie to add to your arsenal this holiday season.

It’s called Pumpkin Pie on the recipe card, but I’ve renamed it Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie.

It uses a graham cracker crust, and instead of baking the whole pie, I just had to bake the crust.

Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin pie so having another type to choose from sounds great to me!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie

Mix together:

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened

1 Tablespoon of white sugar

1 Tablespoon milk or half-n-half

Stir in 1 1/2 cup non-dairy whipped topping, thawed.

Put this mixture into a baked graham cracker crust. Find a recipe for the crust here.

Then beat together:

2 packages of vanilla instant pudding

1 cup milk or half-n-half

Mix with:

1 16 ounce can of pumpkin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Put this mixture on top of cream cheese mixture in graham cracker crust and chill for at least one hour.


This is the graham cracker crust.

You can also use a “storebought” one if you really need to.

There’s really no need to.


This is the cream cheese layer.


Next is the pumpkin/vanilla pudding layer.


The end product is very quick if you need something “last minute”.

AND it’s delicious!


Pumpkin Crunch Dessert

Today’s recipe is one that you can use for Thanksgiving week.

Or any week.

Pumpkin Crunch Dessert is a pumpkin pie/cake hybrid that’s an easy and quick addition to your holiday dessert repertoire.

Gotta hand it to Grandma – she picked some great, easy recipes for her collection.

Pumpkin Crunch Dessert

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Crunch Dessert

1 16 ounce can of pumpkin

1 12 ounce can of evaporated milk

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 box of cake mix (I used white)

1 cup melted butter

1 cup  chopped walnuts or pecans (I used pecans)

Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and spices.

Put in 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

Sprinkle dry cake mix over this.

Drizzle melted butter over the top of the cake mix.

Sprinkle nuts on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. It took mine about 10 extra minutes.


This really is an easy one!


Here is the batter before baking.


I didn’t know whether to use a spoon to get it out of the pan or a spatula.

The spatula worked just great.


This would be a good one to feed a crowd.

The crunchy topping is great with the pumpkin pie like filling.

So good.


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