Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I am, truthfully, not much of a breakfast person. I would be fine with skipping breakfast most days. 

Except when I have bagels. I could eat bagels every day, for multiple meals. (And sometimes I do! It's so easy to take bagels to work for lunch!) The problem is, those Lender's egg bagels that I can get addicted to are NOT cheap. So, of course, I have to make them myself! 

It's even more important to do it from scratch when there are 3 other people in this house that like bagels... Gabriel can eat 1 1/2 when he's really hungry in the mornings. (Which means that 1 package of the store bought bagels doesn't even last 2 days here.) 

I've tried a few different bagels recipes, but this is my favorite so far! These seem to last pretty well, without drying out. The flavor is great, and they are easy to do. (Don't let the number of steps discourage you! It's a longer process, but the steps are easy and it's worth the time!) 

This is a basic bagel recipe. In step 7, if you want toppings, just dip the wet bagels right in a bowl of toppings. Or, if you wanted to, you could add some things right to the dough. (Onion, etc.) 

Printable Recipe


1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast3 3/4 cups bread flour2 3/4 teaspoons salt2 teaspoons malt powder
To Finish
1 tablespoon baking soda
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions, chopped onions that have been tossed in oil, or any other desired topping (optional)

  1. To make the sponge for the bagels: stir yeast into the flour, then stir in the water until it forms a sticky, thick batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place for about 1-2 hours or until the mixture is foamy, bubbly and almost double in size. *Tip: I turn my oven on for just a minute or to, til it just starts to heat up, then place my dough in there to rise. It's just slightly above room temp, and rises a little faster. Be careful to not let your oven get too warm, if you try this!
  2. To make the dough, stir in the rest of the yeast to the sponge using the dough hook of a stand mixer. Stir in 3 cups of flour, salt and malt powder. Slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup flour, while kneading for 6 minutes. At this point, the dough should be soft, smooth and firm.
  3. Divide dough into 12-24 pieces, depending on desired size of bagels. Roll dough into smooth balls and place on lightly greased parchment paper. Cover rolls with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes or so.
  4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with non stick cooking spray. Take each roll and carefully form a hole into the center, forming a bagel.
  5. Place each bagel 1-2” apart on the prepared pans, and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  6. When ready to bake the bagels, preheat the oven to 500° with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the baking soda.
  7. Gently drop the bagels into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit. After 1 minutes flip them over and boil for another minute. For chewier bagels, extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. If toppings are desired, do so as soon as they come out of the water.
  8. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180° rotation. After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450° and continue baking for about 10-15 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. Continue to alternate pans every 5 minutes.
  9. Remove the pans from the oven and cool the bagels 5-10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

12-24 bagels, depending on size *I like to do 24, that's a good size bagel for our family. 12 would make very large bagels!
3 hours
Nutrition Facts
286 (12 ct), 191 (18 ct), 143 (24 ct) *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): Lauren’s Latest

Remember, comments are loved! What's your go-to breakfast?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Crispy Garlic Parmesan Chicken & Zucchini

Anyone still have buckets of zucchini? As in, literally bucketfuls of zucchini? That's the way it was at my grandparent's/mom's garden this year, but it's always like that. I have quite a bit in the freezer, but they keep telling me to take more home. Who am I to say no? ;)

I love to just lightly batter and fry it, but this year I made the effort to do more with it. That meant there was quite a lot of "zucchini" searches on Pinterest and my favorite blogs.

This recipe struck me as soon as I saw the title-- garlic, parmesan, chicken, and zucchini all in one? Yes, please!! I am not a huge fan of frying chicken, but trust me--this is worth it!! This is crispy, golden perfection, with tons of zucchini (and/or summer squash!) to go with it!

We had almost as much summer squash as zucchini, so I of course had to add summer squash too. Gabriel is currently going through an "I don't like summer squash" phase, which can be interesting. While he was more than willing to eat his zucchini and chicken, I had to convince him to eat the summer squash. How I did it? Reminded him that he likes garlic and parmesan, and this has lots of each. And, that summer squash is basically the same as zucchini, we pick them from plants that look just alike. 

I love it when I successfully use logic on my 4 year old. It make me feel like maybe we've got this parenting thing down. (Until, you know, there is a full scale temper tantrum because I did something like stir his chocolate milk when he wanted to.) 

Hopefully, if you are feeding this to small children, you have as much luck as I did getting them to eat their veggies. (Well, this time, at least.) 

Printable Recipe
Crispy Garlic Parmesan Chicken & Zucchini


  1. 5 Tablespoons butter, divided
  2. 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  3. 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon grated parmesan, divided
  4. 2 tablespoon flour
  5. 3 teaspoons Garlic Garlic (or garlic powder, or 3 garlic cloves), divided
  6. 2 Chicken Breasts, sliced in half
  7. 1 medium-large zucchini or summer squash, sliced
  8. Salt
  9. Pepper
  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter.
  2. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, flour, and 2 teaspoons Garlic Garlic. (If using garlic cloves, see step #4.) Dip the chicken in the butter, and then coat in the bread crumb mixture and place in skillet.
  3. Cook on each side for about 4-7 minutes until the outside is crispy and the chicken is cooked throughout. (Will depend on thickness of breasts.) Set aside on plate.
  4. Add the zucchini to the skillet and saute until tender. (If using garlic cloves, add with the zucchini.) Add salt, pepper, remaining parmesan, and remaining garlic. Add the chicken back to the skillet and heat for a couple minutes.
  5. Serve immediately.

4-6 servings
30-40 minutes
Nutrition Facts
362 per half breast *I calculate nutrition facts for my use only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): The Recipe Critic

Remember, comments are love! What's your favorite way to serve zucchini?
Tastefully Simple info: If you are interested in making a purchase, you can purchase through my page, or just search and select "Serena Lee" as your consultant. Obviously, if you are not local and already have a consultant.... purchase through them online, or contact them! Shop local, as always! Disclaimer: I am paid a small amount with each purchase, based on sales, made through myself as a consultant. You are helping to support my baking addiction, thank you! ;)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cream Of Soup Mix

I've shared before of my dislike of processed foods, and convenience foods. Part of it's taste, part of it's the ingredient list, part of it's the whole "grow your own" revolution. (Hello, farm fresh eggs!) 

There are some things, though, that I was/am sure I can't give up. (We are not going to discuss my caffeine addiction. Really guys, it's gotten better!) My cans of cream of chicken/mushroom soups were definitely on that list. While I was moderately disgusted by them, I was sure that:
#1 I don't want to mess with a liquid in the fridge that will go bad, or something in the freezer I'm going to have to remember to thaw.
#2 It wasn't going to be nearly as convenient. 
#3 It was going to ruin all of my favorite recipes. (Like my Cheesy Chicken & Tortillas!) 

After some recipe searching and contemplating, I determined I could work past #1. I found a few recipes I was willing to try, that stayed in powder form. (Then you add liquid right before use.)

I was right in the aspect of #2, kinda. Making it in the moment is not convenient. But, most thinks like this aren't meant to be made in the moment. My taco seasoning I certainly don't--I make a big batch all at once. This makes a decent sized batch, so after the first time I made it I had a bit to use up, and play with. After making a few things with it and realizing that I was wrong about #3, I made a big batch. I think I multiplied the recipe by 4...

And truthfully? Haven't looked back since. (There are actually a couple cans of the other stuff that need to make their way to the food pantry before they expire...)

In all the recipes I've made with this, which is everything that calls for a cream-of soup since last winter, I haven't had any real issues. I have learned that you sometimes need to decrease the liquid, if adding it to something with a lot of liquid already, but that's about it. 

So, go on. Join the mini-revolution. Have fun, we have all kinds of goodies here. 

Printable Recipe
Cream of Soup
(Yes, the picture is mediocre, but what else am I supposed to take a picture of? It's not any prettier when you add the water. Just better than the canned stuff.)


  • 2 cups dry milk powder
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon onion flakes (I use Onion Onion)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (I use Garlic Garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Store in an airtight container.
  2. To make into soup: Combine 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 1/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Whisk until smooth. On medium heat, bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until desired consistency. (Cooking not necessary if adding to a recipe, just whisk and add instead of cream of soup. Do not skip the whisking!)
  3. If making cream of chicken soup, add 1 crushed bouillon cube to the 1/3 cup dry mix.
8 servings
<5 minutes
Nutrition Facts
76 calories per serving *I calculate nutrition facts for my use only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): Humorous Homemaking

Remember, comments are love! What convenience foods have you stopped using, or want to?

Tastefully Simple info: If you are interested in making a purchase, you can purchase through my page, or just search and select "Serena Lee" as your consultant. Obviously, if you are not local and already have a consultant.... purchase through them online, or contact them! Shop local, as always! Disclaimer: I am paid a small amount with each purchase, based on sales, made through myself as a consultant. You are helping to support my baking addiction, thank you! ;)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Cheesecake Brownies

I was contemplating what dessert recipe to share next, when I realized that I have never shared my recipe for cheesecake brownies.

I'm sorry, guys. I didn't mean to hold out on you. Really. 

I originally got this recipe from my mother-in-law years ago, and I could not even begin to guess how many times I've made it since then. I've made it for a lot of gatherings with family and friends, birthdays at work, just because I wanted chocolate... It is always a hit, and I rarely take any leftovers home with me when I take it to a party. That's usually because someone else does. ;)

This is packed full of sweet, chocolatey, creamy, amazing-ness. And then covered in chocolate chips.

Need I say more?

Now, I think I'm going to go make some... then maybe update the picture. I can't ever remember to take a picture of this BEFORE it's cut. That may be because I cut it before it's even cool, but that's ok. You can too. I won't judge. 

Printable Recipe
Cheesecake Brownies

1 cake mix (Devil's food or dark, but I always use devils food.)
2 Eggs
1 stick Butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup milk chocolate chips (optional but who doesn't add chocolate chips when they can??)
*additional note on chocolate chips: I really don't know how many I add. This was the original... I just dump chocolate chips on. If it looks like you have enough, add more.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9"x13" baking pan, set aside.
  2. Stir cake mix, 1 egg, and butter together until crumbly. Save one cup, place rest in bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Mix together cream cheese, 1 egg, vanilla, and milk until creamy. Pour on top of brownie mix. Crumble cup of saved brownie mix on top. Add chocolate chips, if desired.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cream cheese sets and edges golden.

24-32 pieces, depending on how many you are serving and desired size.
Prep Time: 15 Cook Time: 30
Nutrition Facts
Calories: 188/32 pieces, 240/24 pieces. *I calculate nutrition facts for my use only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): Sue Lee (my lovely mother-in-law)
Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite brownie recipe?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Zucchini Bread & Muffins

So I mentioned the other day that I am getting a lot of extra zucchini & summer squash from my grandparents. Well, sometimes one of those little guys hides until it's not-so-little, or we just want to let them grow big enough to shred. Then the possibilities are endless! My grandma has a great sheet cake recipe, and there are so many muffins/quick breads these can go in...

I don't know if I would say this is my favorite recipe, but this really is a classic. It's from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, slightly adapted. (I would say healthified, but.... not much.)

My boys love these muffins! They could sit and devour one in what seems like seconds... then ask for another one. Feeding these boys through their teenage years is seriously going to require us starting a hobby farm. (That was really obvious the other day when Gabriel ate 4 -no, that's not a typo- bowls of oatmeal for breakfast. Yes, he is only 4 years old. And no, I don't know how he does it--he's actually pretty skinny.) 

Oh, and Gabriel's favorite thing about these muffins? "That they have ZUCCHINI in them!!"

I personally prefer the muffins over the bread--single servings, easier for Gabriel to get himself... He's not getting himself snacks, but if I am in the middle of helping Adrian with something it makes it a lot easier if he can get himself another muffin. I don't know, really. There's just something about muffins that I prefer.

However, that is not to say the bread isn't great, too! If I'm taking it to work or Mama's (which I did, with this), I prefer the bread. Then people can cut whatever size slice they want, which is much harder to do with muffins. Being the mom of two small boys, I'm suspicious if I see half a muffin anywhere. ;)

Oh, and speaking of taking this to work and Mama's--I took the loaf of bread to work, my coworkers ate some, and I then took the rest to Mama. My original plan was to share some with her & my brother, then take whatever was left back to work. It didn't make it back to work. Mama was entirely too excited about it, and apparently Kyle was too. :)

Zucchini Bread & Muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour (I've subbed about 1/2 cup flour for oats before)
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg (If you are not a big nutmeg fan, cut down to 1/2 or 3/4. It's a very strong flavor in this.)
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups finely shredded, peeled zucchini
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened (Can sub for oil, if needed)


  1. Preheat oven to 350° for bread or 375° for muffins.
  2. Grease the bottom and up the sides of two 8”x4”x2” loaf pans, or grease/line with paper 24 muffin tins. Set aside
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Make a well in the center of the mixture; set aside.
  4. In another medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, zucchini, oil, and applesauce. Add zucchini mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. Spoon batter into prepared pans or muffin tins. (If using muffin tins, fill to just under the liners.)
  5. Bake bread for 50-55 minutes, and muffins for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack. Cool bread before slicing.
24 slices bread or 24 muffins.
1 hour 15 minutes for bread, 45 minutes for muffins
Nutrition Facts
124/slice or muffin *I calculate nutrition facts for my use only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): Better Homes & Gardens
Remember, comments are love! What's your favorite zucchini recipe? Share with me in the comments!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Creamy Baked Cheesy Chicken

I'm going to preface this post by saying that I am working on taking better food photos. But, sometimes good food just isn't pretty. Especially when you've had to move things around to get a good temp with the meat thermometer. (And yes, I regularly use a meat thermometer; I only risk food poisoning when raw cookie dough is involved.)

Anyways, there is no raw cookie dough here (today). Or raw meat, thankfully. Just really, really good chicken. I've made this multiple times, with good results each time. Different cheeses, too. The picture is taken with cheddar, but it's just as great with mozzarella. Asiago is what the original called for, but whatever. I go with whatever is already shredded in my fridge. ;) I love the combination of seasonings, cheese, and mayonnaise. The mayo makes this sooo creamy. The chicken is PERFECT. So tender, so juicy. I could eat this weekly. It's always a hit with my boys, too!

Creamy Baked Cheesy Chicken

4 chicken breasts, cut in half
1 cup light mayonnaise or greek yogurt
3/4 cup shredded cheese, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Seasoned Salt)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (I use Garlic Garlic)

Preheat the oven to 375° and spray a 9”x13” pan with cooking spray. Lay the chicken inside the pan.
Mix together mayonnaise, 1/2 cup cheese, and seasonings. Spread the mixture evenly over each piece so that the chicken won't dry out while baking.
Sprinkle the top with remaining cheese and fresh parmesan.
Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. (I always use really thick chicken breasts, but start checking at 20-25 minutes. If the breasts are thinner, they will be done much sooner.) Enjoy!
4-8 servings
50 minutes
Nutrition Facts
267 per 1/2 breast *I calculate nutrition facts for my use only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): Recipe Critic

Remember, comments are love! What's your favorite way to make chicken?
Tastefully Simple info: If you are interested in making a purchase, you can purchase through my page, or just search and select "Serena Lee" as your consultant. Obviously, if you are not local and already have a consultant.... purchase through them online, or contact them! Shop local, as always! Disclaimer: I am paid a small amount with each purchase, based on sales, made through myself as a consultant. You are helping to support my baking addiction, thank you! ;)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Brownie Dessert Pizza

The 4th of July is, truthfully, one of my favorite Holidays. Easter & Christmas being my absolute favorites (Jesus!), but 4th of July is next. For us, it doesn't have the craziness of the big holidays, but it's still so much fun. So much small town fun! My hometown might be tiny, but we put on a great 4th of July. Best fireworks in the area, followed by a nearly hour long parade the next morning. Then, my family has a picnic at Mama's house. I always have to bring something fun, and I wouldn't be me if I didn't make something sweet. Two years ago it was this Chocolate Chip Cookie Dip, last year it was cookies, this year I decided to do something patriotic!

I love Pinterest for things like this. A quick search and tons of ideas with great pictures instantly comes up! Only problem is that there is WAY too much to choose from. I finally settled on Brownie Dessert Pizza, as you can never go wrong with brownies! We had some strawberries from a local farm, too, which was another deciding factor. Fresh & local is best!

One of the great things about this is you have to feel a little good eating it. Sure, there is a ton of sugar, but there is a lot of fresh fruit, so that makes it good for you, right? ;)

I opted to use strawberries and blueberries on my pizza, and skipped using anything white. Bananas or apples would be great if you wanted them (depending on desired texture), but I didn't want to risk getting to the parties and having the bananas be browned.

We were invited to a cookout at a friend's house that weekend too, and this was great for both events! I made two small pans, instead of one big one, and took one pan to each. Only problem is that one of these, if you do two pans, is awfully small. People get cranky when they can't go back for seconds! ;)

Brownie Dessert Pizza

1 boxed brownies mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 bananas, optional
lemon juice, optional
1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
8 ounces Cool Whip, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 12" round rimmed pizza pan with nonstick spray; set aside. (Alternately, may use two small round cake pans.)

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the brownie mix, eggs, water and oil. Stir until just combined. Pour into the greased pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake for about 18-25 minutes (depending on size of pans), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the brownie pan from the oven and allow to completely cool.
In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread evenly over the top of the cooled brownie. If desired, slice the bananas and sprinkle with lemon juice. Place the banana slices evenly over the top of the cream cheese layer. Sprinkle with strawberries and blueberries.

Slice into wedges and serve immediately with a dollop of Cool Whip, if desired.

12 servings
30 minutes + cooling
Nutrition Facts
342 (12 servings), 257 (16 servings) *I calculate nutrition facts for my use only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): Seeded at the Table

Remember, comments are love! What is your favorite thing to take to a gathering?