Italian Bread

I love making bread at home. And, I think the bread that I use most often would have to be Italian bread. It’s my go-to loaf to make garlic bread, and croutons, and breadcrumbs…great in so many applications. So it was only natural that I wanted to learn to make this favorite at home!

It’s a little time consuming, as it requires a “sponge” that needs to be prepared and let to do it’s thing before the bread is put together for it’s rise and bake. But it’s that crucial step that produces a chewy loaf that’s soft on the inside, yet crusty and crunchy on the outside – essential for a good loaf of Italian bread. You can do it the night before, but I’ve also just done the sponge early in the morning, and then continued with the recipe in the afternoon with no issues.

This recipe turns out two gorgeous loaves. We’ll usually have one for dinner the night that I bake it, and then store on in the freezer so there’s always one on hand. Saves me a trip to the store on those last-minute spaghetti nights when all I need is a loaf of bread. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Source: adapted from The Fresh Loaf via Annie’s Eats

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

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.

Raspberry Cupcakes

I love making cupcakes. Coincidentally, I also love eating them. The flavor combinations are endless, and there is always a new recipe or spin that I want to try. The lemon cupcakes with blackberry buttercream have long been one of my favorites, so I thought a twist on those would be fun. A raspberry twist!

Went a little lighter on the lemon flavor in this version by just adding a bit of zest, and I also added some chopped raspberries into my usual vanilla cupcake batter. I loved seeing berries dotted throughout the cake once they were baked. It added a surprise burst of berry color and flavor, and added even more moisture to an already deliciously moist cake.

For the frosting I just add a bit of raspberry puree to my traditional vanilla buttercream – it gives it a gorgeous pink hue and natural raspberry flavor. A garnish of a single fresh raspberry really sets them off just perfectly.

They really are beautiful, and taste even better than they look – if you can believe it. A wonderful way to celebrate this warm spring weather that is finally gracing us with it’s presence. Have a great weekend, everyone!