Tuesday, March 31, 2015

carrot cake fever


it's hard to believe that today is already the last day of march, and that easter is just a few days away.  easter and carrots seem to be synonymous in my mind.  i'm always in the mood for carrot cake this time of year because it's such a classic.  whether it's in cake format or in cupcake format, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting can't be beat.

carrot cake isn't just for dessert.  you can incorporate carrots into your easter brunch with hot cross carrot cake pancakes or carrot walnut pancakes.  you can even drink your carrots in carrot apple ginger juice.  the easter bunny would be proud.

here are some other great carrot-cake inspired recipes that sound great for easter . . .
- carrot cake cookies
carrot cake scones
- carrot cake cheesecake
- carrot cake doughnuts
- carrot cake biscotti
- carrot cake muffins
- carrot cake waffles
carrot cake crepes

what are your favorite carrot cake recipes?
love, laurie

Monday, March 30, 2015

it's monday.


last week was a doozy, and this weekend was exhausting.  i am very much looking forward to when our schedules will ease up and when we will finish several of the projects that are chewing up so much of our time right now.  our goal is to try to survive the month of april and then finally relax come may.  it's monday today . . . enough said.  i came across this and this today, which made me laugh.

hope you have a decent monday. 
love, laurie

Friday, March 27, 2015

thursday night mother-daughter dinner date


last night after work i had a dentist appointment.  ryan was tied up working on the next show that we are doing, and my dad was at work, so my mom and i got together for a mother-daughter dinner date after my dentist appointment.  normally, i don't get to see my parents unless it's a weekend or a holiday, so getting together with my mom was such a nice mid-week treat.

we went out to dinner at a new restaurant that she found called mikuna kitchen.  it is a really neat place that combines indian and ecuadorian cuisine.  the menu changes seasonally and their ingredients are sourced from local farms.  our dinners were so good.  i had an indian vegetable stew and my mom had a delicious falafel sandwich with a cup of fresh passion fruit juice too.  for dessert we split plantains foster.  we loved how it was plated in a long slender dish.  the fried plantains were so good with the vanilla bean ice cream covered in salted caramel sauce.  yum!

it was really nice getting together with my mom for a little mother-daughter dinner date!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie   

Thursday, March 26, 2015

easter egg decorating ideas


it's hard to believe that easter is just a little over a week away.  with easter so close by, here are a few fun easter egg decorating ideas . . .

silk tie dyed eggs
sharpie dot eggs
ombre eggs
mosaic eggs
crossword puzzle eggs

what are your favorite ways to decorate easter eggs?
love, laurie

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

peanut butter chocolate chip waffles


we wrapped up one show this weekend and moved right onto the next show on monday.  to celebrate surviving another successful show, we made waffles for breakfast.  why not?

we are huge fans of both peanut butter and chocolate, and we love the two combined.  so, peanut butter and chocolate in a waffles?  yes, please!


the peanut butter gives these waffles an awesome flavor, and the mini chocolate chips make them extra special.  surprisingly, they are not sweet at all.

we topped our waffles with slices of banana, roasted peanuts, mini chocolate chips, and warm maple syrup.  they certainly were a wonderful treat!


peanut butter chocolate chip waffles
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 5 minutes
yields: 2 large servings
adapted from annie's eats

ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon salted butter, melted
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

directions:
preheat your waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.  in a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, sugar, peanut butter, eggs, and milk.  whisk well until combined.  stir in the melted butter.  fold in the chocolate chips.  pour enough batter into the waffle iron to just barely cover the waffle grid (usually about 1/2 cup of batter per waffle).  cook 4-5 minutes, or until the waffles are golden brown.  once cooked, transfer the waffles to a cooling rack while you prepare the remaining waffles.  serve warm, topped with sliced bananas, peanuts, mini chocolate chips, and warm maple syrup.


enjoy!
love, laurie

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting


over the weekend, we celebrated ryan's mom's birthday.  for dessert, we made a three-layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting, topped with colorful nonpareil sprinkles.  

yellow cake with chocolate frosting is such a classic for birthdays.


one of our favorite bakeries to visit when we are in nyc is magnolia bakery.  they are known for their delicious cakes and cupcakes, and one of their most popular items is their traditional vanilla cake.

this classic yellow cake recipe is adapted from the magnolia bakery cookbook, which ryan bought me a few years ago for christmas.


this cake is easy to throw together and holds up well as a layer cake.  the cake's consistency is somewhere between a traditional cake and a sponge cake.

it has a great flavor that pairs perfectly with rich chocolate frosting.  it's an ideal cake for a celebration or for any day of the week!


classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting
prep time: 10-15 minutes
baking time: 25 minutes
yields: one three layer 9-inch round cake (18 servings)
cake adapted from the complete magnolia bakery cookbook

cake ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

frosting ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4-5 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

directions:
to make the cake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  grease and flour the sides of three 9-inch round baking pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.  in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter  for 2 minutes.  add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  in a separate bowl, sift together the flours and the baking powder.  add the flour in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla.  beat well after each addition.  divide the batter evenly among the three pans.  bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  once baked, allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans and allowing them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

to make the frosting, in the the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter.  add the cocoa powder, 2 cups of the powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons of the cream, and the vanilla.  beat until combined.  gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar and cream until you reach your desired frosting consistency.  frost the cake once it has cooled completely and top with colorful sprinkles.


enjoy!
love, laurie

Monday, March 23, 2015

celebrating ryan's mom's birthday!


on saturday, our parents came up to see the show that we have been working on.  while they were here, we celebrated ryan's mom's birthday with pizza, cake, and presents.  it was so nice to get together with everybody.  leko sure had a good time biting the bows off the presents too!

love, laurie

Friday, March 20, 2015

think spring!


happy first day of spring!  technically it's spring today, although it doesn't look like it.  there are snow flurries floating around in the air.  however, i'm still doing a happy dance since winter is now officially over!  last night ryan and i put away all of our winter decorations around our house and pulled out our spring and easter decorations.  now, if the weather would just cooperate we would be in great shape!

i'm thrilled that it's friday today.  the show that we have been working so hard on opens today and runs this weekend.  our parents are coming to see the show this weekend, and we are looking forward to seeing them!

ps: since today is the first day of spring, rita's is giving away free italian ice!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

. . . 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

happy birthday!


happy birthday today to ryan's mom!

love, laurie

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

show week


it's show week . . . or what we lovingly refer to as "hell week" in the theatre.  the musical revue that we are currently working on opens on friday, so this week has been filled with long late-night rehearsals.  i feel like a walking zombie.  i stumbled across a funny post on buzzfeed from a fellow theatre friend, and thought it was appropriate since we're right in the middle of this show.  so, in honor of show week here are 22 secrets musical theatre actors will never tell you.  (#1 is definitely true right about now!)

happy wednesday!
love, laurie

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

lucky charm


ryan must have the "luck of the irish" (even though we aren't irish) because he seems to have a knack for finding four-leaf clovers.  he has found several of them over the years, and i've kept most of the ones that he has found.  (i save them by pressing them between two pieces of wax paper and letting them dry out.)

this particular four-leaf clover has been hanging on our refrigerator between two pieces of wax paper since he found it this past summer.  i saw it hanging our our fridge this morning and it made me stop to realize how "lucky" we are, and to be grateful for what we have.  ryan certainly is my "lucky charm."

happy st. patty's day!
love, laurie

Monday, March 16, 2015

green foods to celebrate st. patrick's day


i'm not irish, so i tend to not really celebrate st. patrick's day at all.  however, here are a few festively green foods in honor of st. patrick's day tomorrow . . .

green shamrock cookies
green smoothie
broccomole (broccoli guacamole)
simple basil pesto
arugula, mint, and pistachio pesto
smashed chickpea and avocado salad sandwiches
cream of asparagus soup
cream of broccoli soup

and of course, st. patty's day wouldn't be complete with irish soda bread.  i really love these simple irish soda bread scones!

love, laurie

Friday, March 13, 2015

the cutest smart phone "stand"



my dad isn't a smart phone user.  he still has a flip phone which he only uses to make phone calls.  so, i had to laugh when he emailed this video to me and said that he would get a smart phone if it came with one of these "stands."  something tells me that we would not be able to get leko to hold our phones like that without biting them!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, March 12, 2015

simple yoga poses you can do while sitting at your desk


i'm a really active person.  however, on weekdays i sit at a desk at work for 8 hours each day.  in general, i find it hard to sit still, so sitting for that long each day really takes a toll on my body.  i try to get up and move as much as possible (trips to the copy machine, a walk to the water fountain, etc.) but my body gets so stiff.  if you're like me, you might find some relief from stretching.  here are 5 super simple yoga poses that you can do while sitting at your desk to help stretch between emails or while talking on the phone.

love, laurie

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

national johnny appleseed day


i learned this morning that today (march 11th) is national johnny appleseed day.  john chapman (a.k.a. johnny appleseed) was an american pioneer who introduced apple trees to many areas, including pennsylvania.  since we live in pennsylvania and we love apples, i thought it was only fitting to share some of my favorite apple recipes in honor of johnny appleseed today.  i typically think of apples during the fall season, but i love them year round.  johnny appleseed day is celebrated in march because it is planting season.

love, laurie

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

paint date


we have been so busy lately with all of the different things that are going on, and it feels like we haven't had a chance to spend quality time together because of our nutty schedules.  yesterday after work, i had to spend the evening painting the set for the show that i am currently working on.  ryan offered to help and i was thrilled to have another set of hands working with me.  it would have taken much longer if i had to do it all myself.  we spent several hours together painting the set, just the two of us.  even though we were exhausted by the time we were finished, it was so nice to spend time together.  it was a nice little monday night paint date.

love, laurie

Monday, March 9, 2015

contorted kitties


on saturday, we took at trip down to my parents' house.  while we were there one of my parents' kitties sat on the couch in the funniest position.  we all could not stop laughing.  i quickly grabbed my phone to take a picture of her.

on sunday night, ryan and i sat down to watch a little tv before bed.  leko came to join us and fell asleep in the craziest position.  ryan grabbed his phone to take a picture of him.

the kitties in our family sure keep us entertained, and they sure know how to get into some of the weirdest contortions!

happy monday!
love, laurie

Friday, March 6, 2015

fun links


thank goodness it's friday.  my mind is officially blown from this week with long days at work and late nights at rehearsal.  i hope we will be able to squeeze in a little bit of relaxing this weekend!

here are a few fun links that i found around the internet recently:

1. one of my all-time favorite desserts in pancake form?!  yes, please!

2. this tree house bed might just be the coolest thing ever

3. these grapefruit poppy seed muffins sound delicious

4. i love this rustic entryway coat rack made out of a piece of salvaged wood and hooks

5. a nice reminder

6. everybody loves nutella 

7. we love panera's cinnamon crunch bagels, and this cinnamon crunch bagel loaf sounds amazing

8. 8 clever uses for shower curtain rings

9. feeling run-down?  here is a 1-minute trick to recharge you!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, March 5, 2015

bits of happiness


one of my favorite things that i used to do on my blog was the bits of happiness series.  somehow i got away from it, and it's been two and a half years since i did the last one.  (wow, time sure does fly!)  it's so easy to slip into a funk this time of the year.  with our crazy schedule and all of this miserable, brutal winter weather that we have been experiencing, i thought it was a good time to bring this happy list post series back.

here are . . .
ten things currently making me happy:

10. knowing that the show ryan has been working on for months is finally over
9. rehearsing for our next show which is my favorite thing ever - a broadway musical revue 
8. taking ballet class twice per week - it feels so good to be able to dance
7. the fact that last night ryan figured out how to program our garage door opener into the rear-view mirror in the car!!!  (you are awesome, husband!)
6. trying new recipes and having them work out
5. catching up on recorded shows on our dvr
4. seeing robins in our back yard - a sign that spring will eventually get here, i hope
3. my new haircut which makes my mornings so much easier
2. cuddling on cold nights with our fluffy kitten
1. planning vacation and counting down the days - tropical waters, here we come!

. . . 

what is currently making you happy?
love, laurie

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

savory corn and cheddar scones


i made a pot of vegetable lentil soup over the weekend for lunch and i was looking for something to serve along side the soup.  we didn't have any bread in the house, and i didn't have enough time to make a loaf, so i decided to make a batch of savory scones.

these scones came together in no time.  they are crusty on the outside while being light and fluffy on the inside.  they have a great flavor thanks to the sharp cheddar cheese and corn in them.  they were a perfect compliment to our soup on a cold winter day.


savory corn and cheddar scones
prep time: 10 minutes
baking time:
yields: 8 scones
adapted from clara persis

ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons salted butter, cold
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup corn

directions:
preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  combine the flour, cornmeal, and baking powder in a large bowl.  dice the butter into small cubes and add to the flour mixture.  use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.  use a spatula to mix in the buttermilk and the beaten egg.  fold in the cheese and the corn.

dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 1 minute until it is all combined and the cheese and corn are well distributed.  roll the dough out into a disk (about 3/4 inch thick) and cut into eight even triangles with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife.  place the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  lightly brush the tops with an egg wash and sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper on top.  bake for 20-25 minutes, until the outsides are crusty and the insides are light and fluffy.


enjoy!
love, laurie

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

pancakes!


it's march 3rd which means it's national pancake day at ihop today.  to celebrate the 10th anniversary of national pancake day, ihop will be giving away free pancakes all day.  if you're like us and you don't live near an ihop, you can celebrate at home with your own pancakes.  it's no secret that ryan and i are huge pancake fans.  here are some of our favorite recipes . . .

pancakes:
almond poppy seed pancakes
apple cider doughnut pancakes
apple pancake rings
banana bread pancakes
banana pancakes
carrot walnut pancakes
chocolate pancakes
cinnamon bun pancakes
cinnamon swirl pancakes with coffee maple syrup
coconut pancakes
coffee pancakes
honey and oat pancakes
hot cross carrot cake pancakes
oatmeal yogurt chocolate chip pancakes
old fashioned pancakes
orange chocolate chip pancakes
peach cornmeal pancakes
peanut butter pancakes
poppy seed pancakes
pumpkin spice pancakes
raspberry oat pancakes with toasted hazelnuts
sweet summer corn pancakes
whole grain buckwheat pancakes
zucchini bread pancakes

dutch babies / puffed pancakes:
dutch baby with fresh berries
german apple puffed pancake
gingerbread puffed pancake
spiced apple puffed skillet pancake

crepes:
lemon poppy seed crepes with lemon blueberry cream cheese filling
strawberry crepes

you can even make your own chocolate chip pancake mix to keep for yourself or to give as a give to a friend to celebrate national pancake day too!

happy pancake eating!
love, laurie

Monday, March 2, 2015

dear kitten . . .


if you can believe it, we got even MORE snow yesterday and today.  it's march!  shouldn't spring be here by now?  i'll tell you, we are running out of places to put all of this snow.  it's really not even funny.  the snow may not be funny, but these videos sure are . . .

last june i shared this "dear kitten" video advertising friskies cat food.  it went viral, and we just could not get enough of it because it was so hysterical.  over the weekend, i found out that friskies has made more "dear kitten" videos since then.  ryan and i watched them yesterday and i could not stop laughing.  they are so funny.  if you are a cat owner, you will enjoy these videos for sure!


happy monday!
love, laurie