Lemon Lavender Loaf

Lemon Lavender Loaf.

Fresh, bright, tart lemon zest and juice mixed with sweet, flowery, fragrant dried lavender buds in a beautifully glazed loaf.

I couldn’t decide if this should be considered a bread or a cake, so I am simply calling it loaf.     Plus I love the alliteration of a name where all the words start with the same Lovely Letter!

A dear friend gifted me a bag of dried lavender recently, and I have been dying to use it.  I finally found some time early Sunday morning to bake this beautiful loaf to enjoy on a beautiful Spring day.

It is light and soft and such a perfect Springtime treat.

Here is how I made it.

Lemon Lavender Loaf*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or use 1 cup milk with 1 Tbsp white vinegar let set 5 min)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 Tbsp dried lavender buds
  • Glaze:
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 Tbsp milk
    • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
    • 1/2 tsp dried lavender buds

Directions:

Prepare two loaf pans with shortening and flour.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, and continue mixing until mixture looks like buttercream frosting.

Gently mix in salt and baking soda.

Add lemon zest and juice to buttermilk, and set aside.

To batter, alternate adding flour and lemon buttermilk in three additions, and mix just until incorporated.  Stir in lavender.

Pour into prepared pans and bake approximately 45 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool loaves 10 minutes in pans.  Remove and cool completely.

Once cool, prepare glaze by mixing powdered sugar, milk, lemon zest and juice, and lavender.  Pour over loaves.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Original recipe slightly adapted from FudgeRipple

Extreme Chocolate Cake

Extreme Chocolate Cake.

For those times….
you know them…
when you just need chocolate cake.

I recently saw a question that made me think.

If you had to live without one of the following for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

  • Coffee
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Wine

For me, it would be chocolate.  Though I adore baking and enjoy chocolate (and even crave it sometimes), if I had to give up one of these four, it would be the chocolate.

I can’t imagine not having coffee in the morning.  A world without cheese?!  I’m just not sure that is a world worth living in.  And oh how I enjoy my glass or two of red wine in the evening.

How about you?

Now even though I would choose chocolate if I HAD to make the choice…. THANKFULLY I do not!

So here’s a chocolate cake I made recently (which is slightly adapted from this one I found at AllRecipes) – just because…

Because sometimes life is worth celebrating with chocolate cake!

Extreme Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Frosting
    • 1 cup softened butter
    • 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 6 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour three 8-9″ round cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Mix for 3 minutes with electric mixer.  Slowly stir in boiling water by hand with wooden spoon until fully incorporated.  Pour batter evenly into the three prepared pans.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes in pans, then remove to cooling rack to cool complete.

Prepare frosting by beating butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Stir in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar, then milk and vanilla.  Beat until fluffy and spreading consistency.

Spread frosting on each layer of cake stacked on top of each other and decorate as desired.

I shaved dark chocolate on top using a vegetable peeler from a large bar of Trader Joe’s 72% Cocoa Dark Chocolate and placed halved strawberries around the perimeter of the top.  

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut Dark Chocolate Dream Cookies

Coconut Dark Chocolate Dream Cookies.

Are you a coconut lover?
Is dark chocolate your chocolate choice?

Would you choose a Mounds bar even if you are a little nutty?!

Then these cookies are definitely your dream come true!

They didn’t last long in our house.

I used Moser Roth 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate I purchased at Aldi.  YUM!

Not a coconut fan?
Make them for someone who is…
You just might earn Betty Crocker Baking Super Star status .

Just sayin’…

Coconut Dark Chocolate Dream Cookies*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup solid coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped dark chocolate
  • 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream coconut oil and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add in egg and vanilla, followed by baking powder, salt, and flour.

Stir in chopped chocolate and coconut.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto baking stone or cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned and set.  Cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

* Original recipe slightly adapted from Add a Pinch.

Creamy Cauliflower Risotto with Shrimp

Creamy Cauliflower Risotto with Shrimp.

On Easter Sunday, we enjoyed an absolutely amazing buffet brunch at a local restaurant in Mars called Breakneck Tavern where they served a positively divine shrimp risotto (among a kagillion other amazing treats).  I only had about a tablespoon of it on Easter, because I wanted to try so many of the other wonderful things they had available (way more than I could sample at one sitting!), but I could not get that shrimp risotto out of my mind.  It was sooooooo good!

Well – I have also  been hearing great things about “ricing” cauliflower and have been anxious to try.

Since I had a beautiful fresh head of cauliflower in the fridge, as well as a bag of shrimp in the freezer, I decided to try a healthier version of shrimp risotto for dinner last night.

O. M. G!  This turned out almost more heavenly than the original one I had a tiny taste of on Easter.  More heavenly because it is so much healthier, but also so delish!!!

My recipe is adapted from one I found at Cafe Delites.  This recipe is a low-carbohydrate, high protein, fiber-rich, calorie-friendly plate of deliciousness!  I hope you will give it a try.

P.S.  If I was making this only for me, I would totally add fresh green peas.  What do you think?  Hubby absolutely detests peas, so I sacrificed for him, but oooohhh –  can you imagine??!!  Pea lovers out there??

Here is how I made it.

Creamy Cauliflower Risotto with Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 12-14 oz shrimp, peeled and tails removed
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1  cup Half and Half (or cream or milk)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (or dry white wine)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper (optional)

Directions:

Remove core from cauliflower and break into florets.  Working in batches of approximately 1 cup at a time, pulse cauliflower in food processor until it is the consistency of rice.  Place all in large bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and sear them while stirring until they start to lose their color.  Add garlic and juice of half of the lemon.  Fry for an additional minute.  Add cauliflower, red pepper (if adding) and olive oil.  Fry and stir for 3-4 minutes until fully combined and coated.  Stir in the half and half (or cream or milk) and chicken broth (or white wine).  Grate Parmesan cheese over all and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Combine.  Cover and reduce heat to low to simmer 6-8 minutes until creamy.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with fresh parsley and wedges of lemon from remaining half.  Top with additional Parmesan if desired.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Classic Italian Lasagna

Classic Italian Lasagna.

I’ve shared before, and I’ll declare again… although I don’t have a drop of Italian heritage (that I know of) in me, I am an Italian “wannabe.”

I love cooking and eating Italian food.

Years ago – even before I was married – I worked with a young Italian woman who generously shared her Mom’s classic Italian lasagna recipe with me.

I have never made it any other way.  It is simple and classic and DELICIOUS!

I’ve adapted it to a smaller portion than the recipe originally shared with me since these days this size will last Hubby and I plenty long enough to almost grow tired of eating it for so many days in a row…. ALMOST!

When you are craving classic Italian lasagna, I hope you will give this recipe a try.  Here is how I make it.

Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart marinara tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. ground beef, pork, turkey (or combination)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 box Barilla Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 cups Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil or 1/4 cup freshly minced basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped parley
  • 1 lb. fresh Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz.  Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, freshly grated

Directions:

Heat olive oil in saucepan.  Add chopped onions and minced garlic, and saute until soft.  Add ground meat, and cook until browned.  Add marinara tomato sauce and simmer.

In medium bowl, mix Ricotta cheese, egg, salt, basil, and parsley.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In 8 or 9 inch square baking dish, spread 1/2 cup prepared meat sauce on bottom.  Layer with lasagna noodles – overlapping to cover.  Layer with half of Ricotta cheese mixture.  Top with sliced Mozzarella cheese.  Spoon more sauce over cheese to cover.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.   Repeat layering.  End with sauce topped with remaining Mozzarella and sprinkled with Parmesan.

Cover with foil.  Bake 25 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake 20 minutes longer or until browned and bubbly.  Cool 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Mangia tutti!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Apple Cider Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash

Apple Cider Roasted Chicken with Butternut Squash.

The calendar says it’s Spring in our little corner of the world, but Mother Nature insists it’s Winter.  I guess since our Winter this year was often more like Spring, we have to deal with a bit of Winter in Spring.

The day I made this recipe last week (the second official day of Spring), we had more snow fall in one day than we have had in one day in the past eight years (approximately 8 inches).

So this super easy, healthy, delicious one pan oven-roasted meal I found at TheLemonBowl.com and tweaked slightly was a welcomed delight.

Using cinnamon as a spice for a savory meal is a surprising delight!   Don’t be afraid to use it liberally.  When combined with salt and coarse black pepper and lots of garlic, it just sings with flavor.

The original recipe called for apple cider, which I did not have, so I found a lonely bottle of Angry Orchard Hard Cider in the back of the fridge that kicked butt in this recipe!  I’m sure you could also substitute apple juice.

I was really tempted to throw in a handful of cashews or pecans (and might next time).  What do you think?

I served this with a simple salad of fresh greens, and  here is how I made it.  Hope you will give it a try.

Apple Cider Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed (approx 4 cups
  • 1 large bulb garlic (approx. 12 cloves), peeled
  • 2/3 cup apple cider (I used Angry Orchard Hard Apple Cider!)
  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place butternut squash cubes and whole peeled garlic cloves on bottom of large cast iron skillet or roasting pan.  Pour cider over all.

Place chicken breasts on top.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Season all with cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is done and butternut squash is soft.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Buttermilk Pound Cake.

I am a total sucker for pound cake!

So Friday – after a long, difficult week – I decided to do some baking therapy and teach my 16-month old granddaughter how to bake her first cake.  It was so fun to put her sweet little apron on for the first time that was a baby gift from a kind friend who knew it would surely get a lot of use.

We made this AMAZING pound cake from a recipe recently shared with me by a dear blog-following friend, Dena, who originally found it from Taste of Home.

The original recipe called for using 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Dena changed it up by using almond  and lemon extract.  I tweaked it a smidge further by using fresh lemon zest and lemon juice.  Dena makes hers in two loaf pans (which you surely can too – and adjust the baking time to 40-50 mins), but we made ours in a fluted Bundt pan and enjoyed with some fresh strawberries.

This recipe is so wonderful.  It is not super heavy like many pound cakes.  In fact, it is almost a bit light and airy.  But it is also dense enough to be super moist.  I love the way the edges turned out a bit crispy and the center moist and tender.

My granddaughter loved it too, so she got to take half of it home to share with Mommy and Daddy.

It snow flurried most of the day and was so cold, so it was the perfect day for us to hang out, have the oven on for an hour, and enjoy the aroma and taste of this delicious, comforting cake.

Thanks so much for sharing Dena!  This recipe is a real winner!

Buttermilk Pound Cake

  • Servings: approx. 16
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • Lemon – zest of whole, juice of half (approx. 1 Tbsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar left to sit for 5 min.)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting on top

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.  Beat in almond extract, zest of 1 fresh lemon, and juice of half of a fresh lemon (approx. 1 Tbsp).  Add baking soda and 1 1/2 cups flour.  Mix just until incorporated.  Pour in half of milk, and beat just until combined.  Gently beat in remaining 1 1/2 cups flour followed by second half of milk.

Pour batter into greased and floured 10″ fluted tube (Bundt) pan.  Bake for approximately one hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 15 mins, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Quick and Easy Steak Fajita Flatbread

Quick and Easy Steak Fajita Flatbread.

We all have those days….

Those days when we want something delicious, but don’t feel like fussing…

Well… what a great discovery I made a few days ago when I decided to throw some fajita toppings on a piece of Naan flatbread.

Well – maybe Hubby thought of this first…. but I gave it a name – so let’s call it a collaboration.

The plan was to have steak salads, but when Hubby discovered the Naan, well…..  the plan changed.

And oh YAY!

This Steak Fajita Flatbread creation is like a sandwich/pizza/wrap/salad all in one!

It’s a great, quick and easy, delicious meal that would be great with chicken too.

Here is how we made it.

Quick and Easy Steak Fajita Flatbread

Ingredients:

1 Naan Flatbread (I found these at Aldi’s)
1 thin Sirloin steak, sliced into strips
1/4 sweet onion, sliced
1/4 sweet red pepper, sliced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Lettuce (I used butter lettuce)
Italian or Balsamic Dressing
1/4 cup Shredded Cheddar, Mozzarella, or Monterrey Jack cheese

Directions:

Sprinkle all but 1 Tbsp shredded cheese on Naan Flatbread and place in toaster oven or oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and flatbread is warm.

Meanwhile, saute onions and peppers in a hot skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil until wilted and browned.  Salt and pepper to your liking.  Remove from skillet.  Add sirloin beef strips seasoned with salt and pepper, and saute until doneness you desire.

Place onions and beef on top of toasted flatbread. Top with lettuce.  Drizzle with dressing.  Top with remaining shredded cheese.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Sprinkle Cookies

Sprinkle Cookies.

There was an old lady (well – let’s call her middle-aged)
who lived in a house.

She had so many sprinkles,
she didn’t know what to do.

So she poured them in batter
with butter and sugar,

and whipped them all soundly
and put them in the oven.

I found a recipe for Half Pound Sugar Cookies, which I slightly adapted to “normal” sized cookies, from Cookies & Cups.

These fun, buttery cookies just make you smile and are a great way to celebrate!  They kind of remind you of eating birthday cake in a cookie!

The family loved them.  They are just enough crispy on the outside with a tender, chewy inside to be the perfect combination.

Here is how I made them.

Sprinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sprinkles

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix butter and sugar with electric mixer until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking soda, and continue mixing until well incorporated.  Add in flour on low speed just until combined.  Stir in sprinkles with wooden spoon.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and bake on a baking stone or cookie sheet for 9-11 minutes until edges just begin to brown.  Cool on cooling rack.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Fresh Blueberry Scones

Fresh Blueberry Scones.

I had a friend come over Saturday morning.

HOORAY!  Excuse to bake something yummy.

I surely couldn’t know someone is coming and not have something freshly baked to share if I could help it.  Right?

Surprise visitors might not be as lucky – but are equally welcomed!   (They may just have to look beyond my make-up-less face, a potentially less than clean house, and deal with frozen cookies.)

It was so good to catch up with this friend I haven’t seen in a while – munching on these tender, buttery, lightly sweet biscuits bursting with tart blueberries and sipping on Cinnamon Dolce coffee with Italian Sweet Cream.

Sometimes it takes a guest to make us sit back and relax and truly appreciate our home.  My friend asked me how I ever get anything done with the beautiful view and comfy surroundings?

It made me think….

I need to quit apologizing for the carpet that needs replaced or the walls that need a fresh coat of paint or the old “stuff” I have.

The greatest compliment I receive is when someone tells me they feel completely comfortable and relaxed and welcome in my home.

Isn’t that what makes a house a home?   I have two signs in my home (one I bought and one made for me by my BFF who didn’t know I had bought the same sign!) that say “The thing I love best about my home is who I share it with.”

That could not be truer for me.  A house is made of wood and nails, but a home is made with love and family and friends.

And maybe fresh Blueberry Scones!

Here’s my recipe.

Fresh Blueberry Scones

Ingredients:

2 1/2  Cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 Sticks Cold Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Buttermilk (easy substitute is 1Tbsp white vinegar added to 1 cup milk)
1 cup Blueberries
Coarse Raw Sugar for Sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Cut butter into small cubes and cut into dry ingredients with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs are formed.  Pour in vanilla and buttermilk, and mix with pastry blender just until incorporated.  Dump dough onto counter, gently incorporate blueberries into dough, and gently shape into a 15″ x 3″ rectangle.  Cut dough in half, then each half in half, then each quarter in half, so that you have 8 rectangles.  Cut each rectangle on the diagonal to form 16 triangular shaped scones.

Place on backing stone or cookie sheet, brush with some milk or water, and sprinkle with coarse raw sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.  Cool for a few minutes on stone or cookie sheet, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi