Kitchen Spotlight: Actress serves up good food and laughter in kitchen

2013-02-13T00:00:00Z 2013-02-28T08:26:03Z Kitchen Spotlight: Actress serves up good food and laughter in kitchenEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

Debbie Laumand-Blanc finds joy in the baking craft.

"I like to bake a lot more than cook," said actress Laumand-Blanc, who is starring as multiple characters in "I Love Lucy Live On Stage" in Chicago.

Tickets for "I Love Lucy Live On Stage" are on sale for performances through March 3 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place in Chicago. FYI: Call (800) 775-2000

One of Laumand-Blanc's favorite baked goods is what she calls Mrs. McNeny's Cream Cheese Cookie Bars. It's a recipe she received from a friend's mother who would always put the cookies in a care package she sent when they were in school.

"They're my daughter's favorite. I've been making them since I was in college," said Laumand-Blanc.

Among other items Laumand-Blanc enjoys making are things she "can do quickly" such as a lemon chicken dish, pasta recipes, soups and salads, on occasion.

"I like to put together dishes that are quick, healthy, and yummy. But not everything is always healthy. I have my comfort food moments," she said, with a laugh.

Pasta dishes, she said, are often speedy and "you can stuff anything in a pasta" dish.

Laumand-Blanc, who resides in Wilmette, Ill., said she learned to cook from her mother who was also a working mom.

"She made a mean roast pork and roast beef," she said.

The actress said after she got married, she decided to start experimenting with various recipes and enjoyed it.

When Laumand-Blanc, her husband Steve and daughter Samantha go out to eat, they love to visit different restaurants.

"But if we find a place we like, we're loyal," she said, adding a particular favorite is The Noodle in Wilmette.

For Laumand-Blanc, it's the social aspect of having a meal together with friends and loved ones that is special.

"I like sitting down at the table and talking. Growing up, it was the same way," she said.

If Laumand-Blanc could have anyone cook for her, she said she'd like "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro to do the honors.

"He would be a blast and a fun person to have over. I like funny people. I wonder if Jon Stewart cooks. That would be a blast," she said.

And on the subject of humorous folks, Laumand-Blanc said she's having the time of her life performing in "I Love Lucy Live on Stage."

"It's such a fun show and it's never dull for me. All the people are such pros and so nice," she said.

The following recipe is from Laumand-Blanc. "It is the treat that I always leave backstage when I go to see my fellow actor buddies in shows," she said.

Mrs. McNeny's Cream Cheese Cookie Bars

1 yellow cake mix

1 stick of melted butter

3 eggs

8 ounces of cream cheese

1 pound powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS: Mix butter, cake mix and 1 egg together. Press into the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch pan. (You don't need to prep the pan in any way - the stick of butter in the mix takes care of it! With a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese, box of powdered sugar and 2 eggs. Beat well. Pour evenly over the cake mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.

"Your house will smell like heaven! This is my daughter's favorite cookie bar! Enjoy!"

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