Monday, January 30, 2017

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

So.... confession time. This loaf of bread did not even last one full day in my house. 

It's a quick bread, so smaller than a regular yeast bread, and that makes it okay... right? ;)

With things like this, it's hit or miss with my husband. He might love it, or he might not. He's not much of a sweet bread kinda guy. This, however, is clearly an exception. I think he and I did the most damage to it. The boys each had a few big pieces as their afternoon snack, so they definitely contributed too!

This is definitely a quick bread worth making. It was SO easy, and obviously a hit. (I had hoped to take some for a snack tomorrow to work.... that's clearly not happening.) 

I made some changes to the recipe to make it slightly healthier and more likely to be enjoyed by my family, but if you are looking to gain some pounds check out the original link at the bottom. This is not a low calorie food. ;) 

Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite quick bread recipe?

Printable Recipe
Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup cinnamon sugar mixture

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray; set aside.
  2. In large bowl, mix applesauce, butter, and sugar until well combined. Stir in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and buttermilk. 
  3. Remove ½ cup prepared batter from bowl and place into a separate smaller bowl, then add cinnamon.
  4. Pour half of the prepared batter into the bottom of the loaf pan. Spoon half of the cinnamon batter on top of the batter, then swirl with a butter knife. Pour remaining batter on top, then remaining cinnamon batter. Swirl again with butter knife. 
  5. Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool 10 minutes, then loosen edges and remove from pan. Carefully place on a plate or cutting board, and sprinkle all sides with cinnamon sugar mixture. (This step must be done while the bread is still warm!!)
  7. Slice into pieces and serve warm.

16 servings
1 ½ hours
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically


Source (for original): Lauren’s Latest

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Strawberry Cinnamon Muffins

I love strawberries. When strawberries are in season here in northern Michigan, we usually buy at least 2 flats... so over 20 pounds. At least. I make 3 or more batches of jam, we eat strawberries for days, and then I freeze whatever is left. Last year, Gabriel & I picked some vs doing the pre-pick, but I think this year I'll have to just buy some that are already picked. I'm due June 25th, so... picking probably isn't going to work out. I'm still hoping that making strawberry jam & freezing strawberries is going to be doable. If baby comes early, this might get interesting. ;) 

After starting to buy local, fresh strawberries a few years ago, I just can't buy them in the store anymore. They just aren't comparable! 

The best thing about getting so many and freezing them in the summer is having strawberries all winter! Then, when I stumble across a strawberry recipe... I don't have to use mediocre ones from the store. 

This recipe is fabulous! These muffins are perfectly sweet, and full of strawberries! My one complaint is that, using frozen strawberries, they seem to be a bit soggy. That didn't stop anyone else from devouring them, though! (Didn't stop me, either.) I always warn people if I'm slightly less than satisfied with the way a recipe is turning out, and everyone told me with this that they will gladly take my rejects. ;) 

If you use frozen strawberries, cut down slightly on the milk. If you use frozen sugared strawberries, the 1/4 cup sugar is not needed! (Unless you want it, in which case I won't judge.) 

Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite summer strawberry recipe?

Printable Recipe
Strawberry Cinnamon Muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar *cut out if using sugared strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk *cut down if using frozen strawberries
  • 2 cups strawberries, chopped into pieces
  • Cinnamon Sugar Filling/Topping:
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Grease or line a 15 cup muffin tin and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl, combine applesauce, egg, and milk. Add to the dry ingredients, and fold in strawberries.
  3. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Reserve half and fold the other half into the batter. Fill each muffin cup with about ¼ cup of the batter. Top with remaining cinnamon sugar filling.
  4. Bake for 12-20 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

15 muffins
45 minutes
Nutrition Facts

Source (for original): The Recipe Critic

Monday, January 23, 2017

Nutella Ribbon Pie

There are some things I've made, that I have old pictures for, that I apparently did not post. Some are intentional-- waiting to make again for a better picture, etc. Some are not intentional-- like this Nutella Ribbon Pie! I definitely thought I had already posted it... oops. Apparently I've been holding out on you guys. ;)

One of my friends showed me this recipe ages ago, but it was a video on facebook... in another language. So I had to come up with this on my own, based on the video! It's actually very easy, although it looks slightly complicated. Worth making!!

Essentially, this is thin layers of pie crust, layered with Nutella. Thin layers of flaky, delicious pie crust, smothered in Nutella. It's heaven.

I discovered that this wasn't on here the other day, when I made two--one for my family, one for me to take to work. (Just in case you were wondering just how awesome it is to work with me.) Of course I have to post it now! This is an old picture, however. I like to double it and make two, but I didn't have enough Nutella for that. (Scandalous, I know. Don't worry, I got more Nutella when I got groceries this weekend.) I knew I should take one to work in addition to the one for home, so I just made them both smaller. Thus, no picture.

This is something you definitely should make!

Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite thing to do with Nutella?

Nutella Ribbon Pie


  • 1 ¼ Cups all-Purpose flour
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • ⅓ Cup shortening
  • 4-5 Tablespoons cold water
  • ¾ cup Nutella

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment paper/silicon mat.
  2. In a medium bowl stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea size.
  3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the flour mixture, gently toss with a fork. Repeat moistening flour mixture, using 1 tablespoon of the water at a time, until all the flour mixture is moistened. Form pastry into 5 balls. 
  4. Warm Nutella slightly in microwave for 20-30 seconds. DO NOT overheat, just enough to make it more spreadable.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, slightly flatten one pastry. Roll pastry from center to edges into a very thin circle. Using a medium sized bowl, cut out an even circle. Transfer to cookie sheet, then spread with a very thin layer of Nutella. Repeat for 4 layers of Nutella; top with final layer of pastry.
  6. Set a small glass on top of center of pie, then cut ½” strips out from center, making a sun. (Approximately 12-15 strips.) Remove cup. Do not separate strips from center. Twist each strip twice, then press end back down slightly to hold. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then very carefully remove to plate. Enjoy!
13 servings
45-50 minutes
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically

Source (for original): unknown

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana Soup

I am, truthfully, not a big soup fan. I'll eat it, occasionally; but not a fan. For some reason, this one got my attention, so I thought it was worth a shot.

It is, most definitely, worth making! Nate was at work when I made it, so he hasn't had it yet, but it was a huge hit with the boys and I! I was lazy/in a hurry when I was putting it together, so I did not dice the potatoes very fine, but I just mashed them a bit in my bowl. The boys didn't seem to have a preference--they were eating the pieces until they saw me mashing it with my spoon, then they mashed theirs too. ;) I would recommend cutting the pieces smaller, but it did work this way if you don't have much time to prep.

Adrian absolutely loved it, and Gabriel announced that the spinach was the best part ever. ;) (We may not be perfect parents, but so far we are at least raising them to be less fussy than their mama was/is!!)

One tip/suggestion/comment-- this does not need to be a crock pot recipe! Next time, I am just going to try stove top, and see how that works! I would recommend simmering all ingredients but the spinach & whipping cream for maybe 20-30 minutes, then adding them for another 15-20. However, since I haven't done that yet, you should definitely watch your times!

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

Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana Soup

  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • ½ tablespoon Garlic Garlic, or 1 clove fresh, diced
  • ½ tablespoon Onion Onion, or 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 4 potatoes, diced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups spinach/kale (Original called for kale, but I usually have spinach on hand)
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Parmesan

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the sausage. (If using fresh onion/garlic, add here and saute for a few additional minutes.)  Drain grease from skillet.
  2. In a large crockpot, place sausage, Garlic Garlic, Onion Onion, potatoes, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Add additional water to cover potatoes as needed. 
  3. Gently stir, then cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-4 hours. 
  4. Add spinach/kale and whipping cream, stir, then continue to cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve hot, with parmesan. 

8 servings
3-7 hours
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically


Source (for original): Homemade Hooplah

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! ;)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread

So, if you follow me on facebook, you saw the teaser photo yesterday. I actually meant to take another photo last night, but the loaf that I originally meant to keep for us... was mostly gone. Between Nate, the boys, and I, we ate most of it in one afternoon. I'm eating the last couple pieces for breakfast. Doesn't look like we're sharing all of the other loaf now... oops.

Yes, it's really that good. 

This is actually my Cinnamon Swirl Bread recipe, but it's almost like monkey bread. I got the idea from another blog, but I prefer my cinnamon swirl bread recipe, so I adapted it for that. Funny thing is that my cinnamon swirl bread never goes this fast. When it's in this form, it's SO easy to snack on. (So, tip: if you want it to last, but want the same flavor, do the swirl bread.) 

Warning: this is addictive. I'm sorry. This only makes one loaf, but I basically always recommend doubling it. 

Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite cinnamon sugar goody?

Printable Recipe
Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon, divided
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  1. In small saucepan, warm milk and 1 tablespoon butter until butter is melted. Set aside until lukewarm. In small bowl, mix water and yeast until yeast is dissolved. In large bowl, add 2 tablespoon sugar, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Pour in milk and butter. Mix until sugar and salt is dissolved. Stir in yeast and water. Mix in 2 ½ cups flour. Turn out onto floured board and knead in the remaining flour or until the dough is soft and smooth.
  2. Put dough in greased bowl and turn dough so that the top is greased. Cover and let rise in warm place for about 60 minutes, or until double in size. Grease and flour a 9”x5” loaf pan.  Set that aside.
  3. Punch down the dough, and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to approximately 12”x20”. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter on top of the dough, then sprinkle remaining cinnamon & sugar on top. (Or however much you want... I don't measure.)
  4. Slice the dough into approximately 20 equal sized pieces. Layer them in the loaf pan like a flip book, with the cinnamon sides all facing the same direction. Place a clean towel over the pan and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes, or almost doubled in size. 
  5. Preheat oven to 350°. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.  (BE CAREFUL. It is easy to under bake this, but it's just as easy to over bake. Keep a close eye on it around 40 minutes, and test the soft looking pieces slightly for doneness.)
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. If needed, run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread, and invert onto a clean board. Using a clean plate, carefully invert so that it’s right side up. (This part's hard, and usually messy. I use my hands, to be honest, it's easier that way.)

1 loaf
Prep Time: 2 hours Cook Time: 45 minutes
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically
108/2 slices

Source (for original): idea and instructions: Joy the Baker, bread recipe: unknown, I've had it for years.

Friday, January 13, 2017

M&M Cookie Pie

So, on one of the blogs I read, she shared a recipe called "Kitchen Sink Skillet Cookie." It's very similar to my Heavenly Skillet Cookie. I liked the look of the new recipe, but decided to play with it a bit and combine some ideas. This was the result!

This is, without a doubt, perfect. And since it was a combination of a couple different recipes, it needed a name! Adrian didn't really come up with anything (but hey, he's only 2 1/2, so...). Gabriel, however, came up with the name "M&M Cookie Pie." (And let me tell you, he was pretty proud of himself!)

However, as to the name-- it doesn't have to be M&M's! Use Reese's Pieces, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, whatever... (Gabriel does strongly recommend M&M's though! And Adrian doesn't recommend any changes either.) ;)

Remember, comments make the pregnant lady happy! What's your favorite skillet dessert recipe?

M&M Cookie Pie

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup mini M&M’s
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup peanut butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350°, and spray cast iron skillet (or 9”x9” pan) with cooking spray.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla; whisk to combine. Add flour, oats, baking soda, salt; mix well. Add in M&M’s and chips. Reserving a heaping cup, press the dough into the skillet. Set aside.
  3. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt peanut butter til runny. (Approximately 30 seconds.) Pour peanut butter over the pressed dough. Drop tablespoon-sized chunks of the reserved dough into the skillet.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges begin to barely crisp up and most of the top surface of the cookie has set. The center may not be completely set. Careful not to overbake! 

12-16 servings
45 minutes
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically

471 (12 servings)/354 (16 servings)

Source (for original): Picky Palate & Averie Cooks

Monday, January 9, 2017

Smothered Chicken Queso Casserole

I'm always looking for something different to make for my boys. We have a lot of recipes that are similar, and I tend to be afraid to jump out of my box (very far, at least) for dinner. However, this combines things that Nate & the boys all like-- chicken, taco seasoning, salsa, rice... Salsa in a main dish, however, is why this is out of my box. I am not a big salsa fan, but the boys loved this!

(However, this does make a lot-- too much for my boys, they tired of it quickly. I will definitely only make a 1/2 batch next time!)

The picture is questionable, but it is much tastier than it looks! I'm just not much of a photographer. ;)

Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite out-of-the-box dish?

Smothered Chicken Queso Casserole


  • 1 tablespoon oil 
  • 1-2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise 
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, divided
  • 15 ounces salsa 
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 medium red/orange/green bell pepper, seeded, chopped 
  • 2 ½ cups cooked white rice
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend 
  • Chopped tomatoes and chopped fresh cilantro, if desired

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 13”x9” baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Sprinkle ½ tablespoon taco seasoning over chicken, then cook for 6-8 minutes. Turn once, cooking til golden brown on both sides.
  3. In large bowl, stir together salsa, whipping cream, milk, and pepper. Reserve approximately ¾ cup of the sauce mixture; set aside. Stir rice into remaining sauce mixture.
  4. Place rice mixture in casserole; top with chicken. Top with reserved sauce mixture, then shredded cheese. 
  5. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes; uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until sauce bubbles and juice of chicken is clear when cut.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes, then garnish as desired.
6 servings
1 hour
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically
323-371, depending on amount of chicken

Source (for original): Betty Crocker

Friday, January 6, 2017

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies!

If you are on my facebook, you probably saw my story yesterday, but I hope you'll forgive my re-telling!

My boys were having their afternoon snack yesterday after Gabriel got out of school, and part of it was dried cranberries. (Which they love.) Gabriel announced that we should make cookies with cranberries in them someday. Well, no time like the present--I was already planning on making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies sometime soon, so I asked if he wanted to add cranberries! He was so excited that these were his cookies!

(And no, this never would've occurred to me on my own... Have you ever read the quote "oatmeal raisin cookies that look like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are the reason I have trust issues."? Yeah, that's fitting for me.)

We subbed out a little over half of the chocolate chips from my regular oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe for dried cranberries, and he decided to do the rest as a combination of milk chocolate/mini chocolate chips. (I gave him quite a few different options... but you can't just pick one!) They turned out great! I made some as regular chocolate chip, for me, but the boys devoured quite a few of the cranberry ones! They were both fairly heartbroken that they could only have two before dinner.

Next time I might try again and see if he wants to do white chips, which quite a few people suggested, but we'll see. He's his mother's child-- that might not be good enough for him. ;)

My favorite part of all of this is getting the boys involved in the kitchen... I love it!!

Remember, comments are loved! What's your favorite oatmeal cookie add in? (I promise not to judge too much if it's raisins!)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies

  • 1 cup butter-flavored Crisco
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 ¼ cup milk chocolate chips/dried cranberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. 
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the Crisco and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. 
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls (or form into balls) onto ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 11-12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

3 dozen
1 hour
Nutrition Facts *I calculate nutrition facts for reference only, this is not done scientifically

168 calories/cookie

Source (for original): Radiant Dust