September 21, 2014

Banana Coffee Cake {Recipe}

Last week, I had some really ripe, brown bananas staring at me.  I usually go to one of my favorite banana bread recipes, but this time... I just wanted to make something different.

My Husband and My Oldest both love coffee cake... and it's not uncommon for them to dig into a package of Drake's coffee cakes every once in awhile.  It's comfort food for them...

I'm not sure why I haven't really made coffee cake before, but when I was trying to decide how to use those fabulous, brown bananas I decided that coffee cake was the way to go this time.

Banana coffee cake

September 17, 2014

Pasta with Chicken and Veggies {Recipe}

A few months ago, I was stuck in bed with some pretty intense back pain. Once it started to subside and I started to regain thoughts of cooking dinner again, I ordered a couple of new cookbooks. One that I have been marking recipes in is from Ellie Krieger - her latest Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less.

When I found her new book, a few things appealed to me right away.  First, she always focuses on the healthy aspect and not denying yourself treats.  It's all about balance with her cookbooks.  Another thing that I love is that her recipes are easy to read and follow - the steps are nicely laid out and make sense.  Finally, there are many photos in her cookbooks (this is the 3rd book I've purchased of hers), and that is a major selling point when I may be on the fence with a recipe that I'm not too sure about upon just reading the description.  There is so much truth in the saying that you "eat with your eyes first".

Penne with chicken and veggies

September 14, 2014

Seared Scallops with Thyme Lemon Butter Sauce {Recipe}

Where did last week go?  It was the first full week of school for our boys, and I honestly can't tell you where the time went!  We are starting to get into the groove of the routine, but it was not easy.  Getting up and moving a bit earlier in the morning was a challenge, to say the very least.

This week is going to be equally busy, but I've got everything added to the calendar so I can at least plan things out.  I've got dinner planned for nearly all nights which will be a huge help as we move from one thing to another.

Since I have more time on Sunday, today I decided it was a good time to make something a little different for dinner.  I picked up some sea scallops to go along with some frozen snow crab legs that we had in the freezer.  I knew the crab legs wouldn't be filling enough on their own, so adding sea scallops over pasta seemed like a good way to fill out the meal.

I've left searing sea scallops to My Husband in the past, but today I wanted to do it myself.  It really does take patience to ensure that you get that nice brown crust on the scallops.

Scallops with thyme butter sauce - perfectly seared

September 7, 2014

Soft Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies {recipe}

Do you ever get an idea in your head and you can't stop thinking about it until you put it into action?  My need to bake cookies, is a normal thing... but, I've gotten tired of doing the same old chocolate chip cookies or some spin on it that incorporates cocoa or something like that.   Sometimes you just want something different.

I began making a sugar cookie recipe back when I was in high school... I really don't know where the recipe came from, but it was easy to make and always came out perfectly.  Today, I fiddled around with the recipe and changed it in such a way that I got some of the best compliments from both of My Boys after they sampled them!  Nothing better than a soft cookie that is studded with chocolate sprinkles to put smiles on their faces and resulted in some of the best hugs I could have hoped for today!

Soft chocolate sprinkle cookies

September 4, 2014

Apple Crisp Featuring Zestar Apples

Last week, I had the day off from work and My Boys were still waiting for school to start, so we took a trip out to Alstede Farms and had some Pick Your Own fun!

After checking their website to see what was ready for picking, we narrowed our choices down to raspberries, peaches and apples!  Yes, they had Zestar, early season, apples ready for picking.  I hadn't heard of them before, but we were ready to give them a try and see what they were like.

Alstede Farms is a great local place to visit with the family and enjoy some farm animals and pick your own produce.  It varies according to the growing season, so you can head out there throughout the spring, summer and fall to pick fresh fruit and veggies and enjoy a hay wagon ride around the farm.

Zestar apples for a fresh apple crisp #jerseyfresh |

September 1, 2014

Soft Chocolate Pudding Cookies {Recipe}

I love a soft cookie that is full of chocolate goodness, don't you?  With the start of school looming ahead of us this week, I wanted to bake some cookies to include in the lunch boxes later this week.  Something about using chocolate pudding mix in cookie dough adds another dimension to the flavor.

Soft Chocolate Pudding Cookies are a perfect addition to lunch boxes or to nibble on after dinner |

I've made other cookie recipes with pudding in them in the past and while they were good, I think I like this version better.  Most seem to use vanilla pudding, but I like using the chocolate flavor and using a combination of white and milk chocolate chips.  This way it pleases everyone in my house since one likes white chocolate and the other likes milk chocolate.

August 18, 2014

Strawberry-Blueberry Freezer Jam {recipe}

I was recently inspired by my sis-in-law to make freezer jam before the bounty of amazing fruit disappears!

She posted a photo of her freezer jam on Facebook, and then told me how easy it was to make so I had to give it a try.  I've never made freezer jam before, although I did learn to can strawberry jam awhile back.
Blueberry-strawberry freezer jam!  #freezerjam #preserving #tasteofsummer

There are distinct benefits to each method.  Freezer jam is faster to make and doesn't require as many tools.  Canned jam will keep in the pantry anywhere from 1 to 2 years, but freezer jam will keep in the freezer for about 6 months.  That is not a problem for us since I don't think it will last the whole 6 months!

August 13, 2014

Fresh Strawberry-Banana Bread {Recipe}

It's summer and fresh fruit is in abundance, so I'm trying to take advantage of it!  And, My Oldest is thrilled with this because it means he's got fresh baked banana bread with different variations available for snacking and breakfast!

I picked up a couple of 1 pound packages of strawberries when I was at Costco last weekend.  Most of them were used to make a couple of batches of freezer jam (I'll be sharing that later this week), so I had some left and decided that if I was going to make banana bread, why not make strawberry-banana bread!

Fresh strawberry banana bread!  #baking #banana #strawberries

I shared this photo on Instagram last weekend, and it's really the only one I got since the bread has been inhaled!  Do you follow me on Instagram?  Check it out because I will share photos there that don't always make it into a blog post here... You can follow me at THIS LINK or the one in my side bar to the right.

August 10, 2014

Baked Vanilla Donuts (a.k.a. Homer Simpson Donuts)

Last week was My Husband's birthday and as it approached, My Boys wanted to know what they could get for his gifts.  This is always an interesting conversation since we don't let them buy us gifts, and always ask that they make us something.  It could be a card, a craft project, or something else that appeals to them.

My Oldest has tired of writing cards at 12 years old, but has a new interest in baking.  At first he wanted to bake him a cake, which was a great idea... pretty simple to find a recipe that he could make on his own.  As it got closer, he changed his mind to donuts.  The change is completely related to his fascination with The Simpsons - between the show that has been on for over 25 years to the comics he's collecting, he loves everything related to The Simpsons.  So, vanilla donuts with pink glaze and sprinkles became the creation for this year's birthday.

Baked Vanilla Donuts a.k.a. Homer Simpson Donuts

August 9, 2014

Restaurant Review: Koi Asian Fusion Lounge, Brick Township

We had family visiting from Arizona recently and while they were here we had the treat of trying a new restaurant in Brick Township, NJ - Koi Asian Fusion Lounge.

The restaurant is located in what used to be a Denny's, but there is no trace of the previous restaurant when you walk in since the decor has been overhauled.  It's a lovely place with good lighting (which helped tremendously with taking photos!), and beautifully plated dishes.

Koi Asian Fusion Restaurant

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