Roast Chicken With Lemon. It’s Your New Go-To Recipe!

A crisp roast chicken would set the world aright. George R.R. Martin

Isn’t she lovely?

Thanks to Julia Child, Ina Garten and my friend Vicki, I have perfected the roast chicken. Every time I make it for friends, I get a request for the recipe. It’s so perfect to make on a Sunday night for family dinner and then add left over chicken to salads, soups or sandwiches throughout the week. It’s really a staple. Best of all, it is really easy too!

I especially like to make it during the busy holiday season when there isn’t much time to spare for cooking during the week. Throw a bag of frozen rice in the microwave (I like Trader Joe’s wild rice or brown rice) and steam some green beans. Sliced chicken, wild rice and green beans with a little fresh lemon juice squeezed on top makes for a very easy, yummy, and quick meal.

All you need is a roasting chicken, lemons, olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices.

Here is the recipe to set the world aright:

5-7 pound whole roasting chicken

1-2 lemons – I go through 2 lemons because I squeeze a little more on the chicken once it’s sliced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large garlic cloves – or more – suit yourself

Salt – whatever you like – sea salt, coarse salt, pink Himalayan salt, good old salt salt

Pepper

Lemon pepper – I prefer Kinder’s

Thyme – dried or fresh

Rosemary – dried or fresh

Basil

Anything else you like – oregano, marjoram, parsley……whatever you have in your spice cabinet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1.      Remove the chicken from the package and place in a roasting pan or 9×13 baking dish

2.      Make sure to remove any of the stuff in the cavity like the giblets and the other questionable things in there

3.      Drizzle olive oil and rub it all over the bird – around a tablespoon or two

4.      Quarter a large lemon and squeeze all the juice all over the bird

5.     Place the lemon quarters in the cavity of the chicken

6.      Liberally salt the chicken – I guess around a tablespoon

7.     Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of each of the herbs and spices – I just pour in the palm of my hand and sprinkle over the bird

8.      Chop the garlic cloves and sprinkle on top and around the chicken

9.      Place in the oven and get ready for the most delicious aroma in your home

Roast for 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the size of the bird – or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees Fahrenheit. When it’s done, let it rest for around 5-10 minutes before carving.

It’s so good with mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, wild rice or atop a salad. Spoon the juices in the pan on top of the carved chicken, potatoes or rice. It is delicious – lemon and garlic goodness. Put forth a little effort to roast a whole chicken to have plenty for lunch or other dinners throughout the week!

Crispy roasted chicken and potatoes. I served a spinach salad with it. Super simple and so, so good!

Lemon Orzo Summer Salad

No longer ask “what can I bring?” Just let them know you and your orzo will be there.

Summer is the time to be social and it’s always good to have a go-to dish to bring that everyone will love. This is a great and refreshing salad to keep in the refrigerator all summer long to enjoy at home or bring to any summer gathering. It is also an easy one to make at the lake or beach! So go ahead and buy way too many veggies at the local produce stand (like I do) and worry no more about how to use them all. This salad is an excellent way to ensure that nothing goes to waste!

Use my recipe as a guide and add any vegetables you love to make it your own. This will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a week. As the week goes on, I add to it – in fact, I cooked a few extra ears of corn a few days after making it and sliced it straight into the salad. Delicious!

I used: zucchini, tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, fresh basil, Castelvetrano olives, kalamata olives, and orzo. I seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Dressing is simple too – lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil.

Other additions: fresh corn off the cob grilled or cooked, feta, garbanzo beans, red onion, Vidalia onion, green/red/orange peppers.

Serve it with grilled chicken for a perfect summer meal. I invited my friend Vicki over for dinner and she brought chicken in a very tasty lemony garlicky marinade. We threw it on the grill and it paired perfectly with this salad!

Here is the recipe for the salad and marinade:

Lemon Orzo Salad:

4 cups cooked orzo

½ cup lemon juice – about 3 large fresh lemons juiced

¼ cup olive oil

Zest of 2 lemons

½ teaspoon of salt                                           

¼ teaspoon of pepper

1 sliced zucchini

1 sliced cucumber

1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes

2 chopped bell peppers – I like red, yellow and orange

¼ cup fresh basil – I chop about 8-10 leaves into the salad

Cook the orzo. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Chop and slice the veggies and basil. Once orzo is done transfer to a bowl and pour the lemon dressing over it and stir. Add in all the veggies. If the orzo seems dry add about ¼ cup of water – or squeeze more lemon juice into it. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm or cold. If serving a day or two after making it, squeeze a little more lemon juice in there. Orzo soaks it up!

Vicki’s Grilled Chicken Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice – 2-3 large lemons

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon of oregano – just throw in a palm full

4 cloves crushed garlic – or a bunch more – whatever you want

Whisk all together. This marinade is great for chicken breasts or kabobs. Vicki will season for an hour or overnight for that good deep flavor.

Happy Summer! Or Fall! You know what? This would be fantastic for a football tailgate. Make sure to save this recipe. Let me know if you love it.

What Does Lemon Luster MEan ANyway? I Get This Question A Lot.

To truly have a zest for life, you must squeeze all the juice out of it….especially the lemons. Believe it or not, they make life even more delicious. The lessons you get out of them make you strong, resilient, and amazing. – Jenny G. Perry

On a trip to Nashville recently with a group of some of my very best friends. A young bride to be on her bachelorette party placed her veil in my hair. I jumped around in it for fun. But really I just felt so much joy being with beautiful and remarkable friends in a fun city on a gorgeous day. I always want to feel that joy and kick up my heels! It’s the epitome of what Lemon Luster is about.

I get this question all the time. What is a Lemon Luster, Why Lemon Luster….so many variations of questioning. Here is the short answer: all of the other names I wanted were taken. Of course, there is more to the story and here it is.

I hit menopause, went through a divorce, and my kids were in high school on their way to starting their own lives. My identity seemed unknown all of sudden. I felt old, nothing I used on my skin or hair was working anymore, I needed to start over in a career, and I wasn’t sure how to approach any of it. If all that doesn’t read like a mess imagine what was in my head.

I was talking to my mom one day about a piece of old furniture I have that is scratched and absolutely lusterless. It’s an antique from my grandmother. It just needed a good polishing to renew its shine and splendor. Cute Judy, my mom, went on and on about this lemon oil polish that she would bring over and we would give it new life and luster. Lightbulb!  I needed to bathe in the lemon luster oil polish. And that my friends became the name of my blog.

If you too are in a similar situation, here is the equation:

Cute Judy + lemon polish + aging + new shine + menopause + dry hair + new purpose = Lemon Luster

So really Lemon Luster is about being our best and thinking the best about ourselves. As well, being a source of light and love for others. With kids about to fly the coop I’m still wondering “now what”. I don’t have the answers but when I come up with something good, I’ll write about it. And if you think of something please let me know! We will figure this out together. This blog is like a virtual porch. Pour a glass of something good and come sit a spell.

Lemons really are one of my favorite things. Here’s a short list why:

  1. I love yellow. It is the happiest color on earth. Lemon yellow just evokes happy.
  2. I love lemons in everything – I can flavor my drink, add the zest to whatever I’m cooking, and then run that sucker around the sink to clean it with the same lemon. MULTI TASKING!!
  3. Lemons are healthy.
  4. Lemons symbolize shine, a refresh, zest for life.
  5. They smell good.

And that is the story behind Lemon Luster. I have more stories – about how I have started over and grown a career, turned dry as desert hair to lustrous once again – it took a while, and how I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I’ll share. To me, middle-aged with an almost empty nest just means I’m walking through a new door to see what’s on the other side. It’s going to be good!

No Matter The Question In Winter, A Hot toddy Is The Answer

Dorothy: Ma, another hot toddy? I think I’ve had enough.

Sophia: Shut up and drink.

Dorothy: This is the fourth one Ma! That’s a lot of whiskey!

Sophia: I only put whiskey in the first one. The second and third were vodka. Amaretto and sambucca in the fourth one. That should kill everything. – Golden Girls

I really love the idea of winter. A fire in the fireplace, cozy blankets, that cold winter smell outside. But as soon as it turns really, really cold that daunting feeling sets in that I have to go outside and face winter’s torture. And put on a coat. Coats make me hot, then cold, then hot, then cold sweaty hot cold. I’m freezing to death and profusely sweating all at the same time. I hate wearing a coat! And I complain relentlessly about the cold and what a harsh, harsh world it is out there. And it is the season of DISEASES. People are coughing, sneezing, throwing up just minutes after being in close confines with them. Winter is very dangerous.

Of course, I became ill the second week in January. I don’t know if it was COVID because all the tests were gone and it was too cold to go out and try to figure out if I had the C word. I just stayed home until I got better (without even knowing if I had the C word….what?!?!). And I drank so much tea that I could have brewed tea straight from my pores in a hot bath. I really wanted a cocktail one evening as I started feeling better, but a cold one would’ve caused my teeth to chatter out of my mouth. And that is when I remembered the hot toddy. It is the most comforting and delicious drink. And it soothes a sore throat. Things were looking up.

Here’s the recipe: hot water, two ounces of bourbon, fresh squeezed lemon juice. That’s it.

Or toss in a candied orange peel or squeeze in a little fresh orange juice.

I made my toddy with tea – Earl Gray and Yogi’s herbal teas are my favorites. You use whatever kind of tea you like. Pour hot water over a tea bag, add honey, lemon and a splash of bourbon. So delicious.

Don’t like bourbon? Tequila, gin and vodka make delicious hot drinks too.

I mentioned candied orange peels. That’s because my cousin Cara posted hers on Instagram. I took one look and knew they would be perfect in a Manhattan or an old fashioned cocktail. Cara uses them as garnish for cream cheese iced chocolate cake. I run to the bar cart and she runs to the oven. I’m the bourbon to her candied oranges!

Ready for the very simple recipes? Here you go:

Cara’s Candied Orange Peels:

Wash and peel a bunch of oranges. Or just a couple. Cut into strips and boil for 20 minutes in water with a cup or two of sugar. Drain and cool, toss with sugar to coat and lay out to dry on a baking sheet. Toss in a cocktail, hot toddy or garnish a cake.

Classic Hot Toddy:

Pour one or two ounces of bourbon or whiskey in a mug, add hot water. Stir in honey and fresh lemon juice to taste.

Variations: Add vodka or gin instead of bourbon or whiskey. Add a cinnamon stick. Go crazy.

I prefer bourbon – either Elijah Craig, Woodford or Basil Hayden’s.

Hot Tea Toddy:  Pour hot water into a mug, add your favorite tea bag, stir in honey, lemon juice and a splash or two of bourbon. Add a candied orange peel for a little extra sweet citrusy flavor.

Hot Apple Cider Margarita

1 – 2 ounces of Tequila
4 ounces hot apple cider – heat in a saucepan
Squeeze of fresh orange juice
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Tsp of light agave nectar

Add all to a mug and stir to mix flavors. Top with cinnamon and nutmeg – or add a cinnamon stick. Or a candied orange peel.

Hot Vodka Apple Cider

Boil 6-8 ounces of apple cider and ½ tsp of cinnamon in a saucepan. Reduce heat and add 1 ounce of vodka. Simmer for about five minutes. You can add more to make a larger batch for friends.

Party idea! Have friends over and treat them to a hot toddy bar. Have various spices like nutmeg or ground cloves, oranges, lemons, teas, cinnamon sticks, apple cider, candied orange peels, bourbon cherries and plenty of hot water in the kettle. Tell everybody to get creative!

And just like that winter is ok.

What I have Learned From COVID-19

Life has handed us lemons this year. So I’ve squeezed them into cocktails, made divine lemon roasted chicken, and made my sink disposal smell like a lemon grove. Ha! Take that 2020!

– Me showing life who the boss is around here.

I’ve enjoyed reading about what others have learned from the pandemic. We’ve all gained something from it and much is with a silver lining. Certainly it goes without saying that COVID-19 is serious and the virus has caused much grief for so many. Humor and family always get me through tough times though! I have stayed sane laughing at ridiculous memes, the funny lessons learned from being stuck at home, and getting back to a simpler life where what matters the most is under your roof.

So here is what I’ve learned during COVID-19:

  1. I can eat an entire bag of Veggie Straws and not feel sick.
  2. My hair must be washed after four days. That’s the limit.
  3. My pajamas that I lived in for a while must be washed after four days. That’s the limit.
  4. Wearing a mask means it’s ok to talk to myself out loud in the grocery store.
  5. The 19 part represents the potential number of pounds you might gain.
  6. How much value people place on toilet paper. Should be distributed by the U.S Mint and priced like silver and gold.
  7. What six feet actually looks like thanks to the blue tape in stores. I have no spatial awareness and my guess would have been inaccurate and more like 10 feet.  We’d be lined up wall to wall in the store.
  8. I don’t like the word “unprecedented” anymore.
  9. People have VERY strong opinions.
  10. The importance of remembering manners and grace after reading opinions that differ from your own.
  11. If I wake up and can smell and taste my coffee I’m doing pretty good!
  12. Family and friends are everything.
  13. I’m a hugger.
  14. I make really good cocktails and elderflower and rose are delicious with gin.
  15. If I have lemons, flour, milk, eggs and cheese I can pretty much make anything into a meal.
  16. I don’t have to always go somewhere.
  17. How exhausting my life was. 
  18. How many people are medical experts with a side hustle as a politician! I am so impressed.
  19. What some people call prepping for a pandemic is also called hoarding.
  20. It is now necessary to announce to a group of people that you have allergies and try to convince them that if you sneeze no one will get COVID.
  21. It is now necessary that if you have allergies and might sneeze among a group of people that you might just want to stay home.
  22. The importance of supporting local small business owners. Shop small local businesses! 
  23. How popular puzzles are. I felt like I needed to run to Target to get one, slap half of it together, call the kids down to smile around it for a pic and post it on Facebook. “Look at us…..doing a puzzle! Together!”
  24. Nature and being outside is essential. Our country is beautiful!
  25. Not to take anything for granted. Be grateful for health, love, home, work, and each other!
Beaver Lake in Eureka Springs, Arkansas – A reminder of how beautiful our country is and that if you have love from those you love….you have everything.

I Think Where There Is Fried Rice There Is Love

So you mean to tell me that a chicken fried this rice? -Someone hilarious

My fried rice recipe is one of my favorites. And my kids love it!  I have perfected the recipe and it’s healthy which means that I am, once again, WINNING! I adapted my recipe from one published in The Joy Of Cooking. My most beloved cookbook….worn out, tattered and stained from Lord knows what I splattered on it. I am a messy cook but I think the bigger the mess the better the dish. Right?

If you read different recipes they will tell you to make the rice the day before and start with cold rice. Do I do that? No. Am I telling you not to make it the day before? No. Feel free to plan ahead and use cold cooked rice. I am just not good at planning that far ahead. I just cook the rice and set it aside. I have found the key is to get the oil in the skillet very hot. And when you add the eggs, make a little well in the middle of the rice and scramble it right there in that little spot before stirring it throughout the rice. OK?

We like our fried rice simple. If I make ham fried rice then I don’t add anything else. Sometimes mushrooms but my kids don’t like that. So truly just ham and rice. Anytime I bake a ham I make fried rice with the leftovers. Ham seasoned with cloves is amazing in fried rice. Coriander is the star in this dish so add that to your grocery list! Coriander makes many recipes delicious. You can use cardamom in place of it if you have that instead. Other uses for coriander include roasted potatoes, vegetable soup, roasted eggplant, and any Indian or Asian rice dish.

If I make chicken fried rice, I like to toss in some broccoli. That’s it. We do not like cabbage or onion but you knock yourselves out adding the veggies you like. And I use brown rice sometimes, but we really prefer white rice.

Here’s the recipe:

¼ cup olive oil – heat in a skillet

3 cups cooked rice – toss it in the hot oil

Once hot throughout and golden add:

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked chicken (I like sautéed chicken), ham or shrimp

Mix well and and hollow out a center in the rice and add:

2 eggs – scramble the eggs and then stir into the rice

Add:

1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce – or more if you like

1 teaspoon coriander

Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet – about 1 tablespoon and sprinkle on top of the fried rice

Variations:  Add mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onion, peas or whatever you like!

It’s not pretty…..but how it tastes is what matters and it’s really good! Let me know how you like it and how you prepare your fried rice.

Ham fried rice with coriander and toasted sesame seeds

Shepherd’s Pie. It’s What’s For Dinner During The Great Casserole Comeback!

“Where’d you get the shepherd?” – My boyfriend Kevin

“This looks so bad but it tastes so good!” – My Kids

Cooking has been challenging to say the least being at the mercy of what is available at the grocery store and my own pantry. I  never know what will be out of stock next at the grocery store. I was shocked to see that hot dogs and sausages were totally wiped out with a sign that said people could only purchase one. Hot dogs? Is that because they will last until the end of time? That is all I can think of. Anyway, as a result I have tried to buy things that will last and that I can stretch through the week.  I fondly refer to this time as the The Great Casserole Comeback. Oh what I can do with a roast chicken, rice, carrots, potatoes, 5 pounds of ground beef……endless possibilities! My kids look scared to death when they see a 9×13 dish come out of the oven.

Well, much to their chagrin they loved my shepherd’s pie. They ate it all. Only one little bit left for lunch the next day.  It’s not pretty…nooooooo it’s not. But what it lacks in presentation it more than makes up for in taste. And that is why I share it with you here today. The best part…..it’s healthy and very easy to make from scratch.  Use the vegetables you have and don’t worry if you’re missing any. Don’t have fresh veggies but plenty of frozen? Throw them in! It calls for mushrooms but they were sold out like the hot dogs. My kids were thrilled. Don’t eat meat or it’s not stocked? Leave it out – the gravy is so good with the vegetables and mashed potatoes alone. You can make it with ground beef or turkey.

Recipe is as follows – it’s easier than it looks!

1 lb lean ground beef or turkey

1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

2 bay leaves

3 whole cloves

1 tsp thyme

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced onion

1 cup quartered mushrooms

1 cup diced celery

1 cup frozen corn

1 tablespoon, plus ¾ tablespoon all purpose flour

½ cup low sodium beef broth

3-4 chopped, cooked, mashed potatoes

½ cup milk – low fat

1 tablespoon butter

1 -2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Brown beef in a large skillet and drain when done. Wipe the skillet clean. Return beef to skillet and stir in 1 cup broth, pepper, salt, bay leaves, cloves and thyme. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

While that cooks chop the potatoes and cover in a pan with cold water. Boil the potatoes until tender for 10-12 minutes. Drain in a colander and return to pan. Add butter, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. I have been known to add a spoonful of sour cream. Mash or mix until fluffy in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Add carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery and corn to the skillet with the beef. Add 1/2 cup or so of more broth if it’s low to cook the veggies. Simmer and cook covered for 7 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Preheat oven to 375. Put flour in a small bowl and slowly whisk in broth. Stir until smooth and blended. Add to beef mixture. Simmer for 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top and cover with mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

I hope your family loves it! I find that cooking for family is psychologically and spiritually nourishing. Food is love!

Proof that my kids loved it:

This Too Shall Pass. Until Then……

“We fall into despair when the terrible gangs up on us and we forget the world can also be wonderful. We just see terrible everywhere we look. So what you do for your friend is you bring up the wonderful, so both are side by side. The world is terrible and wonderful at the same time. One doesn’t negate the other, but the wonderful keeps us in the game.”   – Catherine Ryan Hyde, Have You Seen Luis Velez?

How cute is this? Two little girls in my mom’s neighborhood painted and placed these on everyone’s driveway with a different word of hope for each family.

Keep making lemonade! I keep reading posts and articles right now about making lemonade out of the lemons being thrown at us right now. There is so much that is positive out there and people coming together….six feet apart and separated by phone screens and monitors of course. I do feel so much closer to people from so far away. Do you? All the references to lemons make me smile right now. Lemons are a symbol of well-being and positive surroundings. I don’t know about you but I could really use that right now! The stock market is down and the number on my bathroom scale is up. Shelter in place is in effect for the county in which I live. Oh, and the governor in the fine state of Georgia closed school for the rest of the year. It’s necessary I know. My kids miss their classes, teachers and friends. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The number on my bathroom scale is up. Did I mention that already? I think I did.

I have so many questions. Such as…..

  1. Can I get pulled over just driving to the grocery store? I don’t think I would have a problem if I did. One look at my crazed eyes, an ungroomed dirty dog in the back seat and two kids with home given haircuts should get us waved right on.

2. Are other people changing out of daytime pajamas to put on nighttime pajamas when it gets kind of dark? Asking for a friend.

3. Who is staying awake at night worried sick about loved ones getting sick? And keeping jobs and finances intact? Anyone else? I think I already know the answer.

Worries will continue but so will so many good things and lessons we take away from all of this. I see on Facebook and hear from so many about how it’s brought their families back to the kitchen table for dinner each night. I have always insisted on family dinner at the table but sometimes it was a snack at 9:30 after lacrosse practice and we were too tired to really talk. Now we have dinner every night together and talk, walk the dog around the neighborhood (not a rushed somebody please take that poor dog out right now plea), play tennis, cards (we are trying to learn to play poker – $1 buy-in), or just sit and watch television. Together.  It’s not perfect….we bicker, I try to cheat at cards, ghastly inappropriate things are expelled from both kids at the dinner table, I get mad and then laugh. Because I don’t care what anyone says – a fart is funny. And they work so hard at it and we should celebrate everyone’s God given talents during this difficult time.

I have friends making masks, inspirational jewelry with sweet messages to send to those who need it, dropping off desserts, cards, anything to help lift spirits. There was a drive-by birthday celebration for a neighbor in my neighborhood. Singing happy birthday out of the windows of cars. It brought joy to the entire street! My daughter and I went to a very large parking lot, sat six feet apart from dear friends and celebrated a 16th birthday. There were less than 10 people congregating. It was simple – balloons, bubbles, and singing happy birthday. It was awesome! I received this beautiful package on my doorstep. Lemons of course! With lemon macarons – I’ll share the recipe.

We are all in it together! I read this on LinkedIn from businesses, Facebook from friends, and tell my kids that. We will get through this together. From six feet apart, through FaceTime, Zoom, prayer, texts, funny memes, etc…. The memes! Hilarious videos and memes that I love sending to friends. We all need a laugh! Anyone have a favorite? Here’s a few of mine. Share yours in comments. Please!!!

So stand on that blue tape in the grocery store, wash your hands, stay home and I hope you all feel more connected than ever before. Life is precious and I don’t know many who aren’t waking up each day grateful for what they have right now. Our time with our children and loved ones is precious too. We will look back and remember when we had to stay home, play games, and just come together. That’s what I’ll remember about this when it’s over. How we all got through it together.

I can’t sew masks and I don’t make jewelry. I have never been a crafty person. But I love telling stories, writing and cooking. So that’s what I’m going to do! I have made delicious dinners that my kids have actually liked and I’m trying to compile recipes. I have to take time to write them down because I cook without them and I’ll share them soon. I think we all could use easy recipes right now and I hear people are running out of dinner inspiration. I’ll share mine!

I hope you’ll check back for stories, recipes and whatever else I come up with. It’s the least I can do to help us all get through this…..together!

Sea, Sand, Books, and Beach Shrimp

Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly. – Van Morrison

I just returned home from another great beach vacation. We celebrated my mom’s 70th birthday at her favorite place – the beach on 30-A in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. If you haven’t been let me tell you it’s one of the most beautiful beaches I have been to and I’ve been to many coast to coast. Pristine natural beauty and the color of the water is truly gorgeous. The Watercolor community in Santa Rosa on 30-A is so aptly named for the aqua and turquoise crystal clear sea water. The gorgeous water color combined with sugar white sand is breathtaking. We stayed a few miles from Watercolor in the charming Blue Mountain Beach area and loved it.

Typically, we pack in activities such as snorkeling, boating, shopping and enjoying as many restaurants as possible. This time, my kids let me know they wanted to relax vs. being dragged everywhere. Dragged everywhere? Poor children. That was music to my ears. I read two books and lounged on the beach everyday all day. Heaven on earth. I read Educated by Tara Westover and Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Read them! Even if you don’t like to read. Read them! They will change you for good.

When I did pull myself out of my chair it was to figure out dinner. There was a fantastic fresh seafood market next door and I bought tons of fresh shrimp. Old Bay, lemons, boiling water and in minutes I announced that dinner was served. Fresh watermelon, a salad, and crusty French bread accompanied. Lunch the next day was shrimp tossed in a little mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, avocado, salt and pepper. So fresh and healthy! I call it Beach Shrimp. Yes, it’s on a paper plate. I barely washed my hair much less styled dinner.

I’m back home and it’s hot. I’m craving this perfect meal as it is cold, light and healthy. The best part – it just takes a little time to prepare!

Here’s the recipe if you can call it that:

Shrimp – only fresh. Please. I bought a little over 2 lbs.

Old Bay – ¼ of a cup or 2 heaping tablespoons per pound I’d say

Lemon – a big one – cut into quarters

Add water to a large pot – a little over half way to the top. Squeeze juice from a lemon into the water and toss it in – I quarter it and add it to the water. Add Old Bay and stir. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp and boil 3 minutes for medium and 4 minutes for large shrimp.

Beach Shrimp:

1 lb of cooked, chilled shrimp – peeled and deveined

Tablespoon of mayonnaise

Tablespoon of sour cream

Juice of half of a lemon

One avocado, coarsely chopped

Coarsely ground salt and pepper.  I like Himelayan pink salt.

Toss it all together. I like it alone or over a spring mix salad. It’s also good in French bread served po-boy style.

This will definitely be a recipe made at the beach each summer and enjoyed at home when the mood strikes.  I hope you like it! Comment if you feel like it if you have any beach recipes you enjoy.

Birthday Girl!
My Sea Urchins!

My Friend Mary’s Basil Lemon Yogurt Cake

Bakers gonna bake, bake, bake, bake, bake! – A baker I don’t know said or sang this

Have lots of basil and lemons lying around? If you do, you should make this for breakfast this weekend. And if you don’t just run to the store and get some. My friend Mary made this for her daughter, Ava, for breakfast on a Sunday morning. She found Meyer lemons at the store and decided to make it and serve with fresh lemonade and fruit. I can’t wait for my daughter, Sarah Kate, to make it for me. Ha! I am a terrible baker. I don’t even like baking. I have ruined brownies out of the box. Yes, it is possible.

I love the story behind the recipe. Mary and her daughter volunteer at an assisted living facility – which sometimes my daughter and I will volunteer also playing bingo with the ladies. It is such a gratifying experience! I always think I am going there to help brighten their day but I think I leave a little better than when I walked in. I love their stories, advice and company.

Mary likes to go on Wednesdays because that’s when they bake. She said they might not remember what day it is but put a recipe in their hand, let them boss you around, and they are off to the races! So that’s where she scored this delicious recipe. From one of the sweet residents in assisted living. She hand wrote the recipe for her. I love that. This led to a discussion about our grandmothers and their handwritten recipes we still have. My grandmother Ann didn’t have recipes. I learned to cook from her and so I don’t have a lot of recipes either. I just learned. My other grandmother, Maxine, typed all of her recipes on a typewriter of course and then made notes on the cards. One handwritten comment says, “Extra good!”. I have them! Here is her beautiful recipe box she gave to me with her typed recipes – along with the name of the person who gave it to her.

Mary found this gorgous box recently and it holds her recipes. It’s so pretty!

Here’s the sweet handwritten recipe for the cake. So sweet. I love that Mary’s hand and phone casts a shadow over the page. Lol!

Sarah Kate! Are you reading this? I have all the ingredients you need to whip this up! Can’t wait. Love, mom.

Basil Lemon Yogurt Cake

3 cups of flour

5 tsp baking powder

1.5 cups sugar

Zest of 4 lemons

1.5 cups of plain yogurt

2 tbspn lemon juice

1 cup oil

4 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup chopped basil

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour cake pan. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix sugar and lemon zest. Add yogurt and lemon juice and mix well. Add oil, eggs and vanilla. Add basil and mix well. Fold in flour mix just until it crumbles. Pour in bundt pan or cake pans and bake 45 minutes.

Glaze: 1 cup of powdered sugar, 4 tsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp milk. Pour over cooled cake.