Lemon Love

Lemon Love.

When life gives you lemons,
paint them!

I don’t know why lemons get such a bad wrap.
(you know – the old, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”)

I guess because they are sour,
but there is so much to LOVE about them!

This year, they are all the rage in summer decor.
I even bought a few faux lemon trees to decorate with.

And then there are ALL the wonderful
things you can bake and make with them!

Give me Lemon Crinkle Cookies
or Fresh Strawberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.

Give me Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake
or Lemon Lavender Loaf.

I’ll take Lemon Butter Scallops
or Pan Seared Lemon and Garlic Mahi Mahi.

Give me Lemon Butter Chicken
or Lemon Garlic Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin.

I’ll take it with a crisp, lemony Chardonnay
or Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy!

But for today,
I’ll just paint lemons!

Bright, summery,
happy, sunshiny lemons!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS.  Don’t they look fun on these pillows?

And these bar stools?

And make cute cards?  🙂

(click on the photos for information on how to purchase any of these and many other fun, lemony items in our McKinneyX2Designs ETSY and Society6 shop!)

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake.

This is NOT your momma’s zucchini bread recipe!

Are you overloaded with zucchini and looking for new recipes to use up the abundance you have this time of year?

You have to try this amazing cake!  A co-worker made this to share for a recent celebration at work, and I knew I had to make it.

I modified it slightly from the recipe he found at I Am Baker by cutting the frosting in half, and it was absolutely amazing.

Go bake this!

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • Lemon Buttercream Frosting
    • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
    • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 Tbsp)
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • Dash salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

Shred zucchini and spread out on a clean dish towel.  Roll up and squeeze gently to drain a bit of the excess water.  Set aside 2 cups of shredded zucchini.

Beat together eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar, and lemon zest with electric mixer.  Gently fold in the zucchini.

Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir until incorporated.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour half of batter into each cake pan.

Bake approximately 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Prepare lemon butter cream frosting by beating butter, sugar, salt, lemon juice and vanilla with electric mixer until creamy.

Spread on top of each layer, leaving sides “naked.”

Decorate with additional fresh blueberries, lemon zest, zucchini blossoms, and powdered sugar if desired.

Refrigerate.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

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

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

 

 

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies.

Amidst all the chocolate and peanut butter and pecans and raspberry and apricot, we needed a fresh, bright, citrusy, spring cookie for the wedding cookie table.

This light, delicate Lemon Crinkle Cookie is just the ticket!

A tangy zip of lemon juice and zest in a small little puff rolled in powdered sugar and “crinkled” will make a lovely  contrast in flavor and color.

It’s wedding week, and we are so excited!

Hope you will give this lovely cookie a try.

And while we are talking about cookies…. my friend Sherrie told me a joke this week that I thought would be fun to share given all the cookie recipes I’ve been sharing lately….

Why did the cookie go to the hospital?

……………………………………………………………………………….Because it was feeling crummy! 😝😝😝🍪

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated lemon zest (2 large lemons)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from same 2 lemons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • A couple drops of yellow food coloring
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 ups flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (to roll cookies in before baking)

Directions:

In the mixing bowl of electric stand mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth.  Beat in sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and lemon extract, food coloring and salt.  Mix until well combined, light and fluffy.  Add egg and egg yolk and beat for 1-2 minutes on medium until creamy and light.

Gradually add in baking powder and flour on low speed until just incorporated.  Dough will be quite sticky.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Roll dough into 1 inch round balls and then roll in powdered sugar.  Place balls about 2 inches apart on baking stone or cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies puff and crinkle.  Do not overbake.  Cookies should not brown.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Cookies are wonderful when frozen or refrigerated for a “cool” taste. 

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Fresh Strawberry & Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Fresh Strawberry & Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.

If you know me at all, you know Poppy Seed Cake is my favorite of all cakes.

Unusual to most I’m guessing, but most significant to me because my Grandma always made it for my birthday (New Year’s Eve) since everyone is just about over it with sweets by then after the holidays.

I had some fresh strawberries that were on the verge of going bad and lemon on the brain from a cookie I was making for the wedding cookie table, so I decided to whip up and “zip” up a poppy seed cake for Easter Sunday.

A bit of tart and sweet lemon zest in the batter along with chunks of juicy red-ripe strawberries and a thin lemon glaze really “Spring”ed up my usual wintertime poppy seed cake craving.

Hubby loved his with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an extra handful of fresh strawberries on top.

If you are looking for a fresh, not too sweet, but yummy Spring cake to serve, give this one a try.  It is truly delightful!

Fresh Strawberry & Lemon Poppy Seed Cake*

  • Servings: 1 marvelous cake
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4  cup poppy seeds
  • Glaze:
    • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 2 Tbsp milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour a fluted cake pan or your favorite.

In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter, sugar, and lemon zest.  Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating.  Add milk, yogurt and vanilla next.  Stir in dry ingredients until combined.  Gently stir in strawberries and poppy seeds.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until cake test inserted comes out clean.

Prepare glaze by mixing lemon juice and powdered sugar until sugar is completely dissolved, then stir in milk until smooth.   Set aside.

Cool cake for at least 20 minutes before drizzling with glaze.

Serve with additional fresh strawberries and ice cream, if desired.  

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Adapted from a recipe found on BakerbyNature.com

Lemon Garlic Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Lemon Garlic Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin.

It’s what’s for dinner!

If you are a pork fan, like I am fast becoming, this marinated tenderloin is a MUST try!

It turns out tender and juicy with a fresh citrusy herb flavor that pairs great with potatoes and fresh vegetables for a delicious, easy weeknight dinner.

Prepare and marinade the meat the night before, then all you have to do is throw it on the grill for 10-15 minutes for dinner.

Leftovers are great sliced thinly for sandwiches or tossed in a stir-fry.  Such a bonus to get a couple completely different meals from one easy recipe.

Hope you will give it a try, and hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Lemon Garlic Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • 4 Fresh Ripe Lemons, Juiced and Zest from one
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh Rosemary
  • 1  Tbsp chopped fresh Thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Pork Tenderloins (approx. 1 lb each)

Directions:

Make marinade by whisking together first 8 ingredients.  Pour into large Ziploc bag.  Add the pork tenderloins and coat.  Marinade overnight in refrigerator or at least 8 hours.

Preheat grill to 400 degrees F.   Place tenderloins on grill.  Discard excess marinade.  Grill 10-15 minutes or until meat reaches 135 degrees F.  Allow to rest 5-10 minutes.  Cut into thin slices to serve.

Enjoy with roasted new potatoes and steamed broccoli or your favorite vegetable.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

*Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Mixing Basics in Watercolor: Blue, Red, & Yellow

 

Mixing Basics in Watercolor:  Blue – Red – Yellow.

Going back to basics with my new watercolor palette and realizing all the colors that can be created by using three simple basics.  For all three of these simple, loose, impressionistic flowers, I used the same colors:  Cobalt Blue, Permanent Rose, and Lemon Yellow.

For the first I mixed Permanent Rose with just a drop of Cobalt Blue for the flowers and Cobalt Blue and Lemon Yellow pretty equally for the green.

For the second I mixed Cobalt Blue with just a drop of Permanent Rose for the flowers and Cobalt Blue and Lemon Yellow with an emphasis on the Cobalt Blue in places nearer the flower.

For the third I mixed Lemon Yellow with just a drop of Permanent Rose for the flowers and Cobalt Blue and Lemon Yellow, but only a tiny bit of Cobalt Blue to lighten up the green.

And there are likely hundreds more color combinations in various shades that could be achieved by simply using these three basic colors.

It’s fun and easy and creates such clean, bright, un-muddied results when you keep it simple.

I also used one brush for everything – the Rekab 320S #2 Squirrel Mop (which I could only find by ordering from Australia, but LOVE it – also recommended by Debi Riley),  It is so versatile, but I really had to learn to use it after using inexpensive synthetic brushes at first.  This brush holds a lot of water and paint.  It also can come to a fine point and do small lines with a light touch, and can make fat, wash strokes too.

So if you are even thinking of giving watercolor painting a try…. three colors, one brush (you don’t have to order from Australia – but find a nice natural hair medium sized brush to achieve results you will really enjoy) and some paper (I recommend you start with Cold Press 140lb Arches) is really all you need to create some beauty and experiment with this wonderful hobby.

Thanks to the inspiration of Debi Riley on Watercolor Basics!  So much to learn from such talent!

Enjoy the journey!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Lemon Butter Chicken

Lemon Butter Chicken 2

We found yet another way to make an easy and oh so delicious chicken dinner this past week.  My son, Nick, actually made this from a recipe he found and we adapted slightly.

lemon butter chicken

He’s been practicing cooking more, and is getting really good (at breakfast and chicken at least!).

He will soon be moving out, and I am trying very hard not to be sad.  I am trying to focus on the fact that we have done a great job in raising our boys to be independent, competent men who have found wonderful partners to share their lives with.

Both of my boys know how to cook and are very handy.  They are smart and kind and generous.  (I’m not partial at all – right?!)   They both have found amazing women who are just right for them, and who we love dearly.

I digress….

Back to the point….   Chicken!

Here is another Winner Winner Chicken Dinner we hope you will try.

Lemon Butter Chicken

Ingredients:Lemon Butter Chicken 2

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup Half and Half, Milk, or Cream
  • 1 pt cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt & Lemon Pepper to taste
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Cooked Rice to serve with it (I love Jasmine)

Directions:

Season chicken with salt and lemon pepper.  Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Add chicken and sear until golden and cooked through, about 5-7 mins. per side depending on thickness.  Transfer chicken to a plate and make the sauce.

Add butter to pan drippings and let melt.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add lemon juice and zest and half and half.  Bring to a simmer.  Add cherry tomatoes and basil.  Simmer until thick, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken back to sauce and coat.   Serve over rice.

Enjoy!
I’m sure we will be making this one again.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi