About Laura

Banana Crumb Coffee Cake

I love banana bread and all, but sometimes I just feel like my bananas have a higher calling than in the form of a loaf. A calling for something more like…cake, for instance! Now, after making this – I’m not sure that I’ll ever make a loaf of banana bread again. It was that good!

I mean, I guess I should have known. Coffee cakes have never let me down in the past. But the banana added so much flavor and moisture, then to combine it with the cinnamon streusel on top was just the perfect touch. It also has some of the streusel layered in the middle of the cake too, which I thought was a really nice and surprising twist.

It was perfect as breakfast or dessert, and was still fresh and moist after day three. It made plenty, so it’s perfect to make for a get-together, or to share with friends and neighbors. It’s been a few weeks since I baked this, and I’m already looking forward to making it again. It might have to happen this weekend!

We’re looking forward to the annual egg hunt at our local NASA base tomorrow. As well as dying our easter eggs – that’s getting to be so much fun now that the boys are getting a little bit older.! Although, I’ve been making poor Jon dye eggs since before we were married – so I suppose I’ve always had alot of fun with it. I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter holiday!

Source: adapted from Cookies & Cups

Pork Egg Rolls

Homemade egg rolls were one of the first things I learned to make at home, thanks to my mother-in-law. She’d been making egg rolls for her hungry boys for years, and her teaching me the craft was time that we really enjoyed spending together when we were first getting to know each other…long before Jon and I were actually married!

I remember the process being kind of frustrating in the beginning – before I got the feel of rolling them correctly, and my knife skills weren’t really up to par (would take me 2 months to shred a head of cabbage!). But now after making them for a good 10 years, I can make a batch for an easy weeknight dinner with no problem. I usually go for the chicken version - which is the “OG” for us, but sometimes I like to switch it up with other meats…in this case, ground pork. Shrimp is also great!

They can be made and rolled a couple of hours in advance, but I wouldn’t recommend any longer than that – as the wrappers tend to dry out and rip. Also, a great shortcut with the veggies is to use a couple of bags of shredded coleslaw mix instead of shredding your own cabbage and carrots. Saves a little bit of legwork at least!

I like to serve them with some veggie fried rice, and plenty of Chinese hot mustard and sweet chili sauce for dipping. Once you’ve made and enjoyed them at home, every egg roll you’ll get from a Chinese restaurant will always pale in comparison. Just a forewarning! You’ll be making them for years to come.

Chicken, Spinach, and Artichoke Pasta Bake

Even when the weather is warm, sometimes I still find myself craving a big bowl of comforting baked pasta. But, it’s nice to switch it up from the standard red sauce and ricotta cheese variety. When I came across a recipe a couple of months ago in a recent issue of Taste of Home, I thought I’d give it a try.

I did end up changing it a bit, mainly by adding chicken as well as a dose of homemade Alfredo sauce to the pasta bake. I loved all the flavors together, almost reminiscent of a spinach-artichoke dip. It was pretty easy to bring together too, as it doesn’t require all the layering that something like a traditional lasagna would.

I had leftover roasted chicken from the night before, so I just used that – but a store-bought rotisserie chicken would be ideal for this application. Or you could certainly use boneless skinless chicken breasts that you roasted or sauteed as well. Whatever works best for you!

I kept it simple and just served it with a salad topped with a light lemon vinaigrette. Everyone really enjoyed it, and with most baked pastas the leftovers were even better the next day for lunch.

Source: adapted from Taste of Home Magazine, February/March 2014

Apple Oatmeal Cheesecake Bars

We’re officially down to the wire with baby #3, with less than a month to go at this point. Giving my large size and just general uncomfortable nature – I’m not feeling up to cooking and baking as much as I have been in the past few months. But, I did find the time and energy to make these awesome oatmeal bars this week!

I know apple butter may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to spring. But, let me just say that’s the wrong way to think! It’s a delicious base for a barbecue sauce, or smeared onto a crostini and topped with a little blue cheese and a slice of apple for an easy appetizer. Not to mention the classic peanut butter and apple butter sandwich that is my boy’s favorite!

These bars are delicious, and easy to bring together – which automatically means a winner in my kitchen. A quick crumble composed of oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, and butter is used for the base and the topping. And sandwiched in the middle is a layer of apple butter and a cheesecake filling. What’s bad in that equation? All the flavors go together just perfectly.

I hope that everyone is enjoying all the gorgeous weather we’ve been having. Our crew is heading to Ocean City for the weekend – for a little family “babymoon” before our next bundle of joy arrives. Hoping to eat plenty of good food and let the boys have some fun in the sun. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Source: adapted from Musselman’s

Disclaimer: I received a jar of apple butter from Musselman’s, as well as a lovely spring bouquet of flowers from FTD for my review. As always, all opinions are my own.