Monday, October 31, 2016

Sugar Cookies

I originally published this post a few years ago, but the time is ripe for a re-publication. 

Mama's recipe for sugar cookies is something that I have never, ever tweaked. I am a person who has to always play with recipes, so for me to say "this is perfect, and needs no changes" is quite something. These are on my baking list for every Christmas, and have been on the list since before I was the one doing the baking! I can't remember Mama ever getting to Christmas without making at least one batch. (And when the three of us kids were younger, I remember at least a couple years where the cookies were gone long before Christmas, and we would beg for another batch...) 

However... these aren't just a Christmas thing. The boys and I usually go over to mama's to make cookies for most of the major holidays. Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Valentine's day... if Mama & I have cookie cutters for the occasion, we probably make sugar cookies for it. ;) 

This year, we made the Halloween cookies at my house. (Gabriel directed mama on which sprinkles to use, but she actually put the sprinkles on... which was probably best, so he didn't use all the sprinkles up before we were done decorating!)

To me, these are the perfect sugar cookie. They are slightly crunchy if you don't frost them, but frosting them makes them perfectly soft! 

Printable Recipe

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 ¼ cups butter-flavored Crisco
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tubs store-bought frosting (or homemade if desired)

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs; beat until fluffy. 
  3. Stir together dry ingredients; add alternately with milk to creamed mixture. If dough is too sticky to handle, add flour. Roll ¼” thick on well-floured surface, cut with cookie cutters. 
  4. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 8 minutes. Cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to rack. Frost and decorate as desired. 
About 75 cookies
2-3 hours (including decorating)
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): my mom

Friday, October 28, 2016

Apple Betty

With all the apples we got from the orchard a couple weekends ago, I've had a lot of apple recipes tossing around in my mind. Trying to decide what to bake is always hard.... so many ideas, so many options! (Hint: don't search apple recipes on pinterest. It is slightly overwhelming!)

However, this is something that always make it onto the list. Apple Betty is similar to most fruit or berry crunch recipes. Fruit/berry on the bottom, flour & sugar mix on top. I've considered adding oats, to make it seem more healthy... but I've never actually tried it. Maybe next time! Either way, this is AMAZING. I could eat the whole pan. I'd feel horribly sick, but I think it would be worth it....

I have no idea where she originally got it, but I got this recipe from my mother in law. We were downstate visiting them one weekend, and she made this for us. I immediately told her I needed the recipe. Everyone else ate it with ice cream... forget that, I just want two servings. ;)

(Excuse the poor picture, I forgot to take one of the whole pan... it was mostly gone, and I had some in a bowl before I remembered!)
Apple Betty

  • 4 cups sliced pared tart apples
  • ¼ cup orange juice (optional, I never use this-if I remember right, neither does my MIL.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • dash salt
  • ½ cup butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Mound apples in a greased 9” pie plate (or 9”x9” baking pan). Sprinkle with orange juice, if desired.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly; sprinkle over apples. 
  4. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is crisp. *Watch time! Usually done early.
  5. Serve warm with ice cream, if desired.
9 servings
1 hour
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically


Source (for original): my mother in law
Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite crisp or crunch recipe?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies

This is another one of those "wait, I haven't shared that yet?" recipes. I made some the other day, for my husband. These are Nate's favorites, and I like to be on his good side. ;) (Plus, if I occasionally bake something that his favorite, he doesn't complain much about all the other baking I do!) 

These cookies are one of the classic recipes that my mama's been baking since before my memory even starts. (Quite likely before I was even born.) They are definitely Nate's favorite cookie. He's not much of a cookie person, but he loves these. They are perfectly soft, and basically irresistible. (Thus, the name!) 

Printable Recipe
Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies

  • ¾ Cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ Cup butter-flavored crisco
  • 1 ¼ Cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoon Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 ¾ Cup Flour
  • ¾ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ Teaspoon baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. 
  2. Combine peanut butter, crisco, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed with mixer until well blended. Add egg; beat until blended. 
  3. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to mixture at low speed, mix until blended. 
  4. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased (lightly floured) baking sheet. (Alternately, roll with floured hands.) Flatten slightly with criss-cross pattern with fork. 
  5. Bake for 6 ½ - 8 minutes, cool.

3-4 dozen small
1 hour
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically
Calories: 95/40 cookies

Source (for original): my mom
Remember, comments are loved! Share favorite cookie recipes with me!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Spiced Apple Cider Donuts

I love donuts. Love, love, love donuts. (My waistline doesn't. Oh well. I only ever eat them in the fall, so that makes it ok... right?) Pumpkin donuts and these apple cider donuts are my favorites! I've been making these for a few years, and we always go through them pretty quickly. I won't tell you how quickly we went through the 5 dozen donut holes.... but it was fast enough we didn't have to worry about them going stale. ;)

This being apple season, I'm sure I'll make these a few more times! Only problem is the cost of the apple cider. WOW. I don't know about you guys, but it's crazy how expensive apple cider is. I don't buy it unless it's on sale... and even then I'm fairly cheap frugal, and don't buy it very much.

These donuts are totally worth it, and really don't call for a lot of the cider. (Oh, you may want to cut the recipe in half or so.... it does make a lot.) They are great to make as donut holes, especially for little fingers! As with the pumpkin donuts I make, the cinnamon sugar coating is optional. I usually do about 3/4 with coating, and 1/4 without coating. Either way, they get devoured!

Spiced Apple Cider Donuts

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½  teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar 
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cinnamon sugar mix

  1. Simmer apple cider over medium heat in a small saucepan on the stove for 15-20 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, spices, and/or orange slices for flavor if desired. Simmer down to ¾ cup, then remove any cinnamon sticks/orange slices. Cool in the refrigerator (or freezer) to room temp.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a mini muffin pan/donut pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, brown sugar, and sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and concentrated apple cider.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; slowly pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk until all ingredients are just combined; some small lumps may remain. Do not overmix. 
  5. Pour the batter into the mini muffin pan, filling ¾ full. If making donuts, fill donut pan ⅔ to ¾ full. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The donuts will take the same amount of time.
  6. After baking, dunk the warm donuts all the way into the cinnamon sugar, mixing it around so the entire donut is coated. Repeat with all the donuts, if desired.

5 dozen donut holes/28 donuts
3 hours

Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically
Without sugar: Holes: 52  donuts: 77
With sugar: Holes: 64 donuts: 138

Source (for original): Sally’s Baking Addiction
Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite homemade donut recipe!

Friday, October 21, 2016

French Bread

Do you know what the difference between French bread and Italian bread is? I didn't, until I started writing this blog post. 

Short story: French bread has no fats, or oils. Italian bread usually does.

Which is why this is called French bread. That, and the shape: French bread (baguettes) usually are long and tapered, Italian bread is more rounded. 

Don't you feel all educated now? (This site is actually one I found when I was googling the differences.... really interesting, if you want to read more!) 

The lack of sugar in this bread is probably why Nate likes it so much. For some reason, he doesn't have as much of a sweet tooth as I do... oh well! If I made this bread twice a week, I think he would be happy! He loves to just munch on it, or dip it in olive oil with some seasonings. (Which is apparently more of an Italian thing... we're multi-cultural, I guess!)

And, of course, Nate's teaching the boys: if mama makes bread, you get it when it's warm and fresh from the oven and just eat it. When it's cool you can do things with it, or put things on it--but warm and fresh? Just start eating. ;) 

Printable Recipe
(I didn't realize how pale this looked in the photo til I uploaded it. Really, it's much more of a golden brown color than it appears.)
French Bread

  • 5 ½ - 6 cups flour
  • 4 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup warm water (120°-130°)
  • Cornmeal, optional
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups flour, yeast, and salt. Add warm water to the flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (8-10 min). (Note: I do all this in the mixer. I love my KitchenAid!)
  2. Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (1 hour).
  3. Note on rising: I always warm up my oven, just slightly, and then let my bread rise in there. Don't let it get overly warm, just so that it's a few degrees warmer than your house, especially in the chilly months!
  4. Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover; let rest 10 min. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet; sprinkle greased baking sheet with cornmeal (optional).
  5. Roll each dough half into a 15”x10” rectangle. Tightly roll up, starting from a long side; seal well. If desired, pinch and slightly pull ends to taper. Place shaped dough, seam sides down, on prepared baking sheet. 
  6. In a small bowl, stir together egg white and water. Brush some of the egg white mixture over loaf tops. Let rise until nearly double in size (35-45 minutes).
  7. Preheat oven to 375°. 
  8. Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal cuts about ¼” deep across each loaf top. Bake for 20 minutes. Brush again with some of the egg white mixture. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes more or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Immediately remove loaves from baking sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Yields: 2 loaves (28 slices)
Total Time: 3 hrs

Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically
89 calories/slice

Source (for original): Better Homes & Gardens (red checkered cookbook!)
Remember, comments are loved! Which do you prefer, French or Italian bread?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Before you get all judgey, remember that you're not supposed to judge me for my sweet tooth.

Yes, I'm making fudge.

Yes, it's only October.

But, I noticed the marshmallow creme in Aldi's last week getting groceries.... and I couldn't resist. ;) Don't worry, there's more fall recipes coming soon! I need to make Pumpkin Bread, and share my recipe for Apple Betty, and quite a few others. (We went to an orchard Saturday, and got half a bushel of apples. I haven't even decided what I'm doing with half of them!) 

So even though I'm getting a jump start on the Christmas sweets, I have a good reason. (The good reason being that I noticed it at Aldi's.) 

If you've ever made fudge, you've probable seen this recipe before. It's the classic Fantasy Fudge recipe on the brand Marshmallow Creme jars. They apparently changed it a few years ago, but thankfully you can find the original recipe online. (I wouldn't know though, I'm too cheap to buy brand unless it's on sale.) This is, truthfully, the best fudge I've ever had. I like the stuff we get in Traverse or at Mackinaw, but this is better.

You can make it with or without peanut butter, and there are SO many ways to vary this. As I make more throughout the holidays (and actually get pictures of the variations) I'll post more. The white chocolate with candy cane chunks and peppermint are always a hit! ;) 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

  • 3 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup margarine *some people say you can use butter... I have never had success.
  • ⅔ cup evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 7 ounces marshmallow creme
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter *exclude if plain chocolate is desired

  1. Line a 13”x9” pan with aluminum foil, leaving excess hanging over the edge for handles.
  2. Mix sugar, butter, and milk in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and butter melts; insert candy thermometer (if using--I always recommend using one!!). Slowly bring to boil. Boil for 5 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234°; remove from heat.
  3. Quickly stir in chocolate chips until thoroughly combined. 
  4. Add marshmallow cream and vanilla, stir until marshmallow cream is combined.
  5.  Add peanut butter; stir to combine.
  6. Pour fudge into prepared pan; cool. Once completely cooled, remove foil from pan. 
  7. Place fudge on cutting board to cut.

3 pounds (approximately 100 pieces)
20 minutes + cooling
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically
Peanut butter chocolate: 68
Chocolate: 61

Source (for original): All Recipes
Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite fudge? 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Creamy Parmesan Pasta

I'm one of those people who could happily eat pasta every night.

Every. Night.

Unfortunately, Nate can't. The boys could, but I do try to keep my hubby happy too. ;) So I have to vary things up a bit.... but you still may be surprised at the amount of pasta dishes in my recipe book. (Side note, is anyone curious about the actual book I keep?)

A lot of my pasta dishes are fairly similar. Pasta, some type of cream base, sometimes a veggie or two...This is one of my favorites, though. It's not really heavy, and the calories aren't bad. My boys, especially Gabriel, love it because of the spinach. (Yeah, my 4yo loves spinach. I never claimed he was a normal child, but I love it!) You can add other veggies if you aren't a spinach fan--just toss them in with the pasta when it has a few minutes left. You should definitely try the spinach though!

Creamy Parmesan Pasta


  • 16 ounces uncooked pasta (I like the weird shapes!)
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 3 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Pepper Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Dash salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup Parmesan

  1. Cook pasta and carrots according to pasta package directions. 
  2. In a small nonstick skillet, saute the mushrooms and onion in oil until tender. Add spinach, cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the flour, bouillon, Garlic Pepper Seasoning, parsley, oregano, and salt. 
  3. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan. 
  4. Drain pasta, add to mushroom mixture and stir to coat.
Yields: 8-10 servings (10 cups)
Total Time: 20 m
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): Cooking for Two
Remember, I love comments! What's your favorite pasta dish?
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Nutella Pie

You guys know about my love for Nutella. My serious, unending love for Nutella. So, when I saw a recipe for no-bake Nutella pie as I was looking for things to make for family Christmas... I decided to just adapt my peanut butter pie recipe for Nutella!

I posted earlier in the week about the Peanut Butter Pie. This Nutella Pie is very similar--if you look, there are only very minor differences. I cut down on the milk--the consistency of Nutella is thinner than peanut butter, so that was a needed change. Even with that it's a bit thinner than I wanted, so beating it just a bit extra helps.

This is just as great as the peanut butter... but satisfies my Nutella cravings. ;)

Printable Recipe
Nutella Pie
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip

  1. Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, Nutella, and milk. Beat together for a minute or two, until thickened. Fold in Cool Whip. 
  2. Spread into graham cracker crust. 
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Refrigerate again after serving. 

1 pie (12 small pieces or 8 regular)
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically
350 (12 pieces), 525 (8 pieces)

Source (for original): longtime friend

Monday, October 10, 2016

Peanut Butter Pie

My family's Christmas was this past weekend, and I always volunteer to bring a dessert or three. (Yes, we celebrate quite early, but my grandparents go to Florida entirely too early every year; we have to celebrate early.) This year I opted to bring some no-bake pies. Peanut butter, of course, that's always a hit whenever I take it to a party. Then I experimented a bit--Nutella Pie, and Cherry Chocolate Chip. Everyone seemed to enjoy them! I'll post those recipes another day. :)

I love no-bake pies. (Like the Oreo Cream Pie I made for my birthday!) As a general rule, they are easy, everyone likes them, and they are FUN!

This is a recipe I originally got a few years ago, from a friend and co-worker. Someone gave it to her father, because her family loves the one that a local restaurant serves. I've been making it ever since! (Personally, I think it's better than the restaurant.) I love it!

If you're looking for something EASY and delicious, try this!

Peanut Butter Pie
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip
  • Crushed chocolate, if desired
  • Chocolate syrup, if desired

  1. Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and milk. Fold in Cool Whip.
  2. Spread into graham cracker crust. Top with chocolate, if desired. 
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Refrigerate again after serving. 

1 pie (12 small pieces or 8 regular)
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically
337 (12 pieces), 506 (8 pieces)

Source (for original): a long-time friend