Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lemon Bundt Cake Recipe

When life gives you lemons, make a Lemon Bundt Cake!
I know my son is not a little boy anymore because this year when I asked him what he wanted me to bake for his birthday, he went to the book shelf, picked off a cookbook, and marked Lemon Bundt Cake.  For the first ten years of his life, he requested such cakes as Rubber Ducky (okay, maybe I picked that one for him), pirates, dinosaurs, Kirby, and Mario.  Last year he even picked a Surfboard cake, but not anymore. He's matured and he's got good taste.

I was thrilled that he asked for a Lemon Bundt Cake for his birthday this year because it goes right along with my recent when-life-gives-you-lemons theme.  Also, I was glad that he picked something out of one of my favorite birthday cake inspiration books, The Cake Mix Doctor Returns by Anne Byrn.  As I was loading the dishwasher, my soon-to-be-eleven-year-old son read me the description and the recipe out loud.  He says he picked it because it was lemony and was 'that cake that has a hole in the middle'.

The cake was just what my son wanted for his eleventh birthday.  It has intense lemon flavor with just the right amount of sweetness.  The cake is extremely moist, yet it uses applesauce instead of oil so it  is relatively light.  Traditionally bundt cakes are topped with a glaze, but my son opted out of that and requested that I decorate his birthday cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting.  I piped the icing around the base of the cake and along the top.  He wanted more frosting so I wrote Happy Birthday around the sides of the bundt cake.

Although I have always enjoyed perching action figures precariously on layer cakes, carving sheet cakes into various shapes, and tinting frosting into garish colors, this new phase of birthday cake parenting is fun too.  I love that my oldest son is starting to share my love of recipes and I can't wait to see what he chooses next year for his last tweenage celebration!

Lemon Bundt Cake
(adapted from "A Lighter Susan's Lemon Cake" from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns by Anne Byrn)

PAM for baking
4 Tablespoons lemon juice (juice from about 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 package (18.25 ounces) Lemon Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme)
3 Tablespoons lemon gelatin crystals (about half of a 3 ounce package lemon jell-o)
2/3 unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup hot water
4 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with PAM for baking.
  2. Wash and pat dry lemons.  Zest lemons to get 1 teaspoon.  Juice lemons to make 4 Tablespoons. (Save any extra juice and zest for glaze or frosting.)
  3. Place lemon juice, lemon zest, cake mix, lemon gelatin, applesauce, hot water, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute or until ingredients are incorporated.  Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth, about 2 more minutes.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula.
  5. Bake for 38 to 42 minutes or until the top of the cake is light brown and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Transfer the Bundt pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cake plate or stand.  Dust with powdered sugar, glaze with lemon glaze (3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest whisked together), or decorate with Lemon Buttercream Frosting.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

1 teaspoon lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (2 large lemons)
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons milk, if needed
yellow food coloring, optional
  1. Mix softened butter with an electric mixer for about 30 seconds or until fluffy.
  2. Add the lemon juice and zest.  Add a small amount of yellow  food coloring, if desired.  Gradually add the powdered sugar.  Mix on low until all powdered sugar is incorporated.
  3. When all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, mix for one minute.  Add milk, one Tablespoon at a time if frosting is too thick.  Frosting should be a spreadable consistency.  
  4. Beat for 1 more minute until frosting is light and fluffy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lemon Sherbet

When life gives you lemons, make lemon sherbet!
While my family and I were in Maryland, my husband bought me a little treat.  He says that he told me about it during our vacation and that I seemed less than impressed.  Six days after we arrived back in Texas, however, while he was unpacking, he came upon this gift again and gave it to me.  This time I squealed, jumped up and down, hugged him, and gushed about how thoughtful he was, while he remained less than impressed with my reaction and said, "I already told you about this."  Oops, sorry, honey, I do get distracted while traveling, but I love gifts!

The gift that my husband so lovingly acquired for me at Unicorn Books  is a church cookbook called Queen Anne Goes to the Kitchen.  It is a compilation of recipes that were submitted by "The Episcopal Church Women of St. Paul's Parish" in Centreville, Maryland. It was originally printed in 1962 and was reprinted in 1993 (which seems like just yesterday, but is really 17 years ago!) by Tidewater Publishers.  In addition to local tried-and-true recipes, this cookbook is also filled with stories, scriptures, history, and even information about the church's Biblical Herb Garden.  This is one that I'll read like a novel!

Continuing with my lemon theme, I began by marking all the lemon recipes in Queen Anne Goes to the Kitchen.  I'm intrigued by the Old-time Lemon Butter which according to my mother, my grandmother used to make and serve on pop-overs.  How could I have missed that?  I didn't even know she made popovers let alone had access to lemons.  This is going to require a bit of family research.  The next lemon recipe that intrigued me was Lemon Sherbet which was submitted my Ann Dudley Brower Turner.  Although I own a nice ice cream make, I've never made sherbet and was looking forward to trying this recipe.

This Lemon Sherbet did not disappoint!  It only calls for three ingredients which are half-and-half, sugar, and lemons.  The use of an ice cream maker, lemon juicer, and lemon zester is also required.  The sherbet base requires no cooking and, therefore, does not need to be chilled before freezing.  After a little less than a half hour in the ice cream maker, the Lemon Sherbet was a creamy soft-serve consistency.  Of course, my sons and I did not want to wait for it to harden so we all enjoyed a luscious scoop straight from the maker.  It was creamy and thick with a perfect balance of tart and sweet.  My oldest son crushed up a graham cracker to sprinkle on top.  This flavor combination reminded us of the Chick-fil-A  Lemon Pie.  I put the remainder of the sherbet into the freezer in an air tight container to enjoy later.

I am so grateful that my husband bought me another church cookbook to add to my collection.  These type of cookbooks are always rich in history and filled with dishes that I can add to my daily cooking repertoire.  I'm, also, grateful that life has given me an abundance of lemons so I can make lots of Lemon Sherbet.  I can hardly remember why I got on this when-life-gives-you-lemons kick in the first place.

Lemon Sherbet Recipe
shared by Heidi's Recipes (

1 quart half-and-half
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
2 teaspoons lemon zest (about 2 lemons worth)
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker for about 25 minutes.  
  3. Serve immediately for a softer consistency or transfer to an air-tight container and place in the freezer for a few hours for firmer sherbet.
from Queen Anne Goes to the Kitchen by The Episcopal Church Women of St. Paul's Parish

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Linked to the following inspiring blog parties:
This Weeks Cravings, I'm Lovin' It - Lemon Recipes, Mouthwatering Monday

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lemon Vinaigrette Recipe

When life gives you lemons. . . 
Browsing at my local library last week I stumbled upon the cooking guide Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver.  My sons and I enjoyed the show by the same name and were eager to check out the book.  In the van on the drive home from the library my son started to peruse our find and shout out interesting recipes.  This book contains a ton of cooking instructions that I've marked as worthy to be tried.  Jamie's chapters on Easy Curries and Tasty Stir-Fries have lots of recipes that use ingredients that are out of my comfort zone, but that seem tasty and feasible.

Lovin' Salads is another chapter that appeals to me.  On page 101 Jamie writes, "In my view, salads are a really important part of modern-day eating.  Finding ways for your family to want to eat them is what it's all about."  I agree!  He goes on to stress the importance of mastering "salad skills" rather than following exact recipes.

Due to my recent obsession fascination with lemons, I chose to shake up a jar of Jamie's Jam Jar Lemon Dressing as my first recipe from this cookbook.  The idea of mixing up fresh vinaigrettes in cute jars has always been appealing to me, so I used his recipe as an inspiration.  In addition to olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice, I added the zest of one lemon to my vinaigrette.

. . . make Lemon Vinaigrette and. . . 
My jam jar Lemon Vinaigrette motivated me to create a luscious green salad using my leftover Lemon Chicken, spinach, romaine lettuce, feta cheese, and a few croutons.  I warmed up the chicken in the microwave for a minute.  The warmth of the meat contrasted nicely with the coolness of the salad greens.  The vinaigrette was the perfect light yet flavorful touch for my salad.

. . . Lemon Chicken Salad!
Other jam jar dressings that Jamie writes about include French, yogurt, and balsamic.  I want to try them all.  The pictorial chart that is included on page 119 is just what I need to add variety to my salad repertoire.  It pictures different lettuces, herbs, veggies, cheeses, and toppings that can be mixed and matched to create an infinite amount of salads for lunch or dinner.  Now that I've tackled Jamie's salads I'm ready to move on to some of his curries and perhaps his Lemon, Ginger, and Turmeric Rice. I'm also ready to add Jamie's Food Revolution to my Christmas list.

Lemon Vinaigrette

inspired by Jamie Oliver's Jam Jar Lemon Dressing from Jamie's Food Revolution

6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (this is a time to use your good stuff)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
zest of 1 lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
juice of 1 small or 1/2 large lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)

  1. Put 6 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a small empty jar that has a tight fitting lid.  
  2. Add salt, pepper, and lemon zest to jar.  
  3. Shake gently to combine.
  4. Add the juice of one lemon.
  5. Shake vigorously to create a creamy texture.
  6. Use on your favorite green salad and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
Note:  If you're fresh out of small, cute jars with tight fitting lids, you could whisk this vinaigrette in a bowl and create the same results.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lemon Chicken Recipe

When life gives you lemons. . . 
Okay, so I thought I was over the fact that my old domain name was swiped, but given the idea that I cringe every time someone mentions Heidi's Full Plate, I must admit that I just might have a tad bit of residual anger.  A few days ago my five year old son said, "Mommy, are you sad?"  And I, thinking he was referring to my recent visit with my sick grandmother, said, "Yes, honey I am sad."  But then he said, "You know, about your 'bwog'!"  So maybe I have mentioned it a few times in the last week, and just maybe I have devoted a couple brain cells to coming up with a witty, smart, unique domain name that google will recognize, but now I'm over it.  I'm totally over it and I have fully embraced the simple, to the point, google optimized name, Heidi's Recipes!

After letting go of my initial sourness, my bloggy lemons have reminded me of lots of amazing lemon recipes!  There are lemon bars, lemon vinaigrette, lemon curd, and lemon sorbet.  My son even requested a Lemon Bundt cake for his 11th birthday which is next week.  Oh, the lemony possibilities!

. . . make Lemon Chicken!
For my first lemon endeavor, I returned to an old dinner favorite, Lemon Chicken.  After our vacation, my family and I were craving a home cooked meal and this recipe is the perfect balance of easy and satisfying.  It can be quickly prepared right before dinner or mixed up ahead of time on those particularly busy evenings.  I stir the ingredients together right in my baking dish.  I then add the chicken, cover the casserole, and refrigerate until it's time to bake.  I appreciate only dirtying up one dish and I love the content feeling I get when I smell the amazing aroma of Lemon Chicken while it is roasting.  

I usually serve Lemon Chicken with rice and broccoli.  The pan juices can be drizzled over the side dishes and the chicken.    My daughter likes to add additional lemon pepper to her plate.  If you happen to have any leftovers, this chicken is wonderful on a mixed greens salad or in a wrap.   So, if life happens to give you lemons, why not make a big pan of Lemon Chicken for your family and friends!

Lemon Chicken

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1-2 lemons cut up into wedges (can be the lemons that you juiced and zested)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper plus more to taste
chicken parts (1 chicken cut-up or any combination of parts you prefer, we like thighs)

  1. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, oregano, and cinnamon together in a large baking dish.
  2. Add chicken parts and lemon wedges to baking dish rolling to coat. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, or bake right away.
  3. When ready to bake, arrange chicken skin side up.  Sprinkle with lemon pepper.
  4. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until chicken is crispy and golden brown on the outside and no longer pink on the inside. 
  5. Serve with rice or roasted potatoes and a green vegetable such as broccoli.  Drizzle pan juices on chicken and side dishes when serving.  
Linked to the following inspiring blog parties:
Mommy’s Kitchen
Sister Sister Sunday

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heidi's Recipes

In 1995 my Kindergarten Class gave me a Longaberger recipe basket as a gift.
I treasure it and it's contents!
Last week while I was body surfing in the Atlantic Ocean, picking crabs on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and whiling away 52 hours in a mini-van with my husband and four children, my domain name and web address for Heidi's Full Plate was swiped.  Because I've always been a pad and paper type of girl, blogging has been both fascinating and perplexing for me. I relied mostly on my husband to guide me through the technical aspects of Heidi's Full Plate while I focussed on the cooking, writing,and rambling.  I was aware that I had been blogging for over a year (hence the excuse to bake my grandmother's luscious Triple Chocolate Cake) and I knew that my husband had purchased the web address for Heidi's Full Plate for a nominal fee over a year ago.  What I didn't know, however, was that the renewal process for my domain name was not automatic.  Even more surprising was the idea that someone was willing to pay money for my domain name within minutes of it expiring.

After flirting with denial, sadness, anger, and blame, I came to acceptance. I chose to view this as an invitation to greater things.  Although I've lost a few incoming links, some brand recognition, and a bit of search engine optimization, I've gained knowledge of the technical side of blogging and a  renewed awareness of why I blog.  I originally started Heidi's Full Plate to record and share my 41 years worth of recipes.  I had a desire to record for my children the fact that my mother-in-law was always eager to make a pan of Strawberry Pretzel Salad to serve at birthday parties, and that my dad grew yellow squash that my mom baked into Scalloped Squash Casserole every summer.  I also wanted to share with the world that Crock Pot Beef Barbecue is the perfect party food and that a home made Buzz Lightyear birthday cake is totally doable. I already knew that I loved collecting and creating recipes, but what I didn't realized was that I loved the process of reflecting on and writing about them.  I also discovered that connecting with my blog readers and other bloggers is exhilarating and enjoyable!

Through this process of loss and reflection, I have come to understand that the essence of my blog is recipes, not just any recipes, but my recipes, Heidi's Recipes!  Recipes that have been lovingly hand written on 4 x 6 index cards, recipes that have been clipped from newspapers printed in the last millennium, recipes that I recently ripped from a favorite magazine, recipes that I printed off the internet, recipes that I've book marked in my cookbooks, and recipes that I've created in my own kitchen.  My recipes are a part of my history that I want to record and share through my blog Heidi's Recipes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kool-Aid Play Dough Recipe

When I lead my five year old son over to the Kool-Aid display at Wal-mart and asked him to choose a packet, he gasped and said, "What are we going to do with this, Mommy?"  It suddenly occurred to me that, unlike myself as a child, my kids have never actually drank this fruity and sugary beverage.  When I was a little girl in the 1970's, drinking pitchers of Kool-Aid, along with consuming jugs of Sunny D and cans of Hi-C, was an everyday occurrence.  I even saved up enough Kool-Aid proof of purchases to order the frosty, plastic Mr. Kool-Aid pitcher (Aren't you jealous?).  Although I'm not willing to introduce Kool-Aid into my children's daily drinking repertoire, I did purchase the six pack of little flavor envelopes, designating the majority of them for the Kool-Aid Play Dough recipe that I had recently acquired, but setting aside one for a novel drinking sensation in my home.

After my children had come down from their sugar high and washed off their Kool-Aid mustaches, we made a batch of play dough.  The instructions and ingredients are similar to my tried-and-true dough recipe, but who knew that the addition of one .13 ounce packet of artificial flavor crystals color could do so much.  I'm not a big fan of my family ingesting RED 40 and BLUE 1, but as a dough dyer it is fantastic.  Our packet of cherry Kool-Aid produced a brilliant shade of red that surpassed any food coloring tht I had used in the past.  There is also the pungent smell.  As soon as the water hits the dry ingredients the artificial cherry aroma fills the kitchen.  Then every time the dough is kneaded, shaped, or pounded the smell is released again and I am transported back to summer 1975.

I acquired this Kool-Aid Play Dough Recipe from Marianne Gibbs.  She is an occupational therapist who has taken her passion for young children's learning and channeled it  into her creation and presentation of Write Out of the Box.  I guarantee that by perusing her web-site you will become inspired as a mother, a teacher, or a friend of young children.  Her passion is infectious, her knowledge of children's fine motor skills is abundant, and she is fun.  Her workshops are fun, her activities are fun, and the products that she promotes are super fun!

In one of her recent and oh-so-informative e-blasts I learned that when children use a rolling pin they are exercising the precision muscles of their hands which will promote better handwriting.  I also found out that when they use a pizza cutter to explore with their play dough, they are developing the longitudinal arch of their hand which aids in proper pencil grip.

So thanks to Marianne Gibbs and her cool Kool-aid Play Dough recipe I will now be saying, "Hey kids, let's make some Kool-Aid Play Dough!" instead of "Children, could you all join me at the kitchen table?  Pick up a pencil and a piece of paper.  We are going to practice handwriting."  Kool-aid Play Dough rocks!

Kool-Aid Play Dough Recipe

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
1 package Kool-Aid (.13 ounce, any flavor)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, salt, cream of tartar, and dry Kool-Aid crystals) together in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  2. Add the wet ingredients (water and oil).
  3. Stir the mixture together over medium heat until mixture thickens and a ball begins to form.  Turn off heat.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour to hands and surface as needed.
  5. Cool dough completely and store in a zip-lock bag or other air-tight container. 
  6. Use a variety of tools (rolling pin, pizza cutter, garlic press, empty tins, tongs, etc.) to explore with dough.

      Saturday, July 3, 2010

      Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe

      Summer reminds me of road trips, road trips remind me of Cracker BarrelCracker Barrel reminds me of biscuits, and biscuits remind me of the new recipe I tried last week.  I received this recipe from a parent of one of my preschool students.  She makes these Cracker Barrelish Buttermilk Biscuits and uses them as a vehicle for her Chocolate Gravy which totally intrigues me and seems absolutely blog-worthy, but that recipe is still waiting patiently in my "To-Cook File".  I did, however, in my quest for light and flavorful biscuits that don't come from a tube try this recipe that she passed to me at the end of the school year.

      Whenever I acquire a new recipe from a friend, a stranger on the street, the newspaper, a magazine, or the internet, I place it in a large plastic envelope.  This is my "To-Cook File".  Sometimes recipes hang out in this poly pack for months, but once I've prepared the food item, the recipe either goes into the trash or into one of my large recipe binders. According to my husband, one of my bad habits is trying a new recipe, getting lots of positive feedback from my family, filing the recipe, and then never making it again.  Really?  I beg to differ, although I do agree that there are more recipes than time in my life now that I've expanded my culinary horizons to the land of blogs and tweets.

      This recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits is definitely getting a place in the bread section of my recipe binder. It does require dry buttermilk which took me a few weeks to locate in the grocery store, but, as usual, HEB came through for me and I found a container of it in the baking aisle.  This recipe also calls for  Bisquick, so someday when I'm feeling particularly ambitious or when all my kids are in college, whichever comes first, I would love to merge this recipe with another biscuit recipe that does not use Bisquick, but for now this iconic baking mix works just fine.

      These Buttermilk Biscuits are perfect when topped with a little butter and strawberry jam or could be used for a ham or sausage sandwich.  Although I prefer them when they are still warm from the oven, my daughter and husband love them the next day when they are room temperature.  Either way  these biscuits could be used for your next stay-cation or when you want to be reminded of your family's last road trip.

      Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
      It's a Keeper

      Buttermilk Biscuits

      3 1/2 cups Bisquick
      4 Tablespoons dry buttermilk
      1 cup water
      1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
      1 12 Tablespoons butter, melted
      additional melted butter for brushing

      1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
      2. Mix the Bisquick, dry buttermilk, water and sugar together in a bowl.
      3. Add the melted butter int the batter.  Stir until a soft dough forms.
      4. Turn dough out onto a well floured work surface.  Knead 20 times and don't be afraid to get additional flour into the dough.
      5. Roll dough to 1/2 inch thick or thicker if you prefer towering biscuits.
      6. Place biscuits close together on an ungreased baking sheet or stone.  Brush tops with melted butter.
      7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes our until biscuits are puffed up and golden brown. 
      8. Brush tops with more melted butter.

      Thursday, July 1, 2010

      Smoothie On the Go Tips

      This summer my kids have been sleeping late!  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore these peaceful summer moments and I have been waiting for this day for 13 years.  The memories of my son standing up in his crib at 5:45 am and saying, "Mommy, it's a sunny day!"  are all too fresh in my mind.  I am grateful for this new 'sleeping-in' sensation.  At some point, however, I want everyone to arise and eat breakfast so we can begin our day.  In addition, I am fully aware that children sleeping past nine in the morning equates kids ready to play Uno and pop popcorn at 10 in the evening.

      Yesterday after I had taken my dog for a three mile walk, drank  my coffee, eaten my Ezekiel bread toast, and checked my facebook page, I was ready to serve breakfast and move on. First I baked a batch of Cracker Barrel Biscuits and the smell wafting upstairs woke up 50% of my children.  When that technique wasn't fully successful, I broke out the blender.  My youngest son loves making smoothies and pushing the buttons on our blender, so I let him jab to his heart's content or at least until the other half of the family joined us at the breakfast table.

      My smoothie method worked, but we ended up creating a triple batch of smoothies in the process.  No worries, however, our leftover fruit puree was perfect for one of our favorite summer snacks, Smoothies On the Go.  Here are my tips for making them:

      Smoothie On The Go Tips
      1. Make a batch of your favorite smoothies (here's our recipe, this time I used mixed berries in addition to strawberries). 
      2. Gather a few small freezer safe containers with tight fitting lids.  I use Ball  8-ounce or 16-ounce Freezer Jars.  
      3. Fill the containers about 2/3 full with the smoothie, leaving room for expansion as the mixture freezes.
      4. Put the lids on the containers and place them in the freezer.  
      5. Serve the Smoothies on the Go straight from the freezer with a spoon or place them in a cooler, picnic basket, or lunch box.  After a few hours they will have a softer consistency and can be eaten with a spoon, slurped with a straw, or sipped directly from the container.