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Thanksgiving Day Inspiration

I love doing these holiday round up posts because they give me a chance to look back through everything I have posted on Lemon & Mocha. About 97% of the time I am so busy trying new recipes from my endless stream of cooking magazines, cookbooks and Pinterest that years go by between making the same dish twice. Looking through this list here today though made me want to start December by re-making each and every single one of these. I may or may not have been drooling in anticipation as omg-this-is-so-freakin-delicious food memories came flooding back. So here is some inspiration for you for Thanksgiving or really anytime you’re looking for something out of this world to eat. Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion & Apple Dip  |  Lemon & Mocha

Caramelized Onion & Apple Dip. Start the big day off right with an indulgent dip to tide your guests over until the turkey is ready.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup. The curry butter adds a unique twist to this fall soup.

Greek Yogurt Cornbread  |  Lemon & Mocha

Greek Yogurt Cornbread. The most moist and delicious cornbread you will ever eat.

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. Free up some room in your oven with this outrageously delicious dish.

Lemon, Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower  |  Lemon & Mocha

Lemon, Garlic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower. Add some healthy and flavor-packed veggies to your Thanksgiving table.

Pineapple Bread Pudding  |  Lemon & Mocha

Pineapple Bread Pudding. It sounds unusual, but this is the most life-changing side dish. Warning: you may not want to share.

French Onion Green Beans  |  Lemon & Mocha

French Onion Green Beans. A light take on an old classic.

Stracciatella Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Pie  |  Lemon & Mocha

Stracciatella Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Pie. Delight your guests with an out-of-this-world showstopper dessert.

Turkey & Manchego Panini with Sun-dried Tomato Mayo  |  Lemon & Mocha

Turkey Manchego Panini with Sun-dried Tomato Mayo. Perfect sandwich for leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Fresh Rolls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Fresh Rolls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce. A unique way and light way to use up your leftovers.

Mini Molten Chocolate Pecan Pies

Mini Molten Chocolate Pecan Pies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Thanksgiving is almost here! Only a few more days until we get to say thanks for all the good events and people that graced our lives over the past year. Of course, our thanks would not be complete without an all-day marathon gorge fest.

Mini Molten Chocolate Pecan Pies  |  Lemon & Mocha

After the glorious turkey, mashed potatoes lathered with gravy, piping hot biscuits, tart cranberry sauce and 23 other dishes, the great finale of any traditional Thanksgiving meal are the pies. Along with the pies comes the great pie debate. Apple pie or cherry pie? Pumpkin pie or lemon meringue pie? Blueberry pie or the ever mysterious chess pie?

Mini Molten Chocolate Pecan Pies  |  Lemon & Mocha

One of my favorites is the classic pecan pie, although it is usually missing a very important key ingredient. Chocolate! Once you experience pecan pie loaded up with chocolately chip goodness you will never want to settle for regular, plain old, chocolate-lacking pecan pie again.

Mini Molten Chocolate Pecan Pies  |  Lemon & Mocha

How pecan pie minus chocolate chips is the standard completely boggles my mind. I found a mini pie pan at Christmas Tree Shop last year and have been itching to bake up some cuteness.

Mini Molten Chocolate Pecan Pies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mini pies are fantastic because they take less time in the oven, are adorable and you can have a whole pie all to yourself! Thanksgiving is all about sharing, but when it comes to dessert… just don’t get your fork too close to my pie…

Mini Molten Chocolate Pecan Pies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mini Molten Chocolate Pecan Pies
 
Yield: 5 mini pies
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup dark corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1¼ cups pecan halves
  • ¾ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 sheet unbaked pie crust, pressed into mini pie pans
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pre-bake the pie shells, making sure to use pie weights, for 7 minutes.
  2. Combine the eggs, brown sugar, flour, vanilla extract and corn syrup in a medium mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and stir. Add the pecans and chocolate chips then stir. Distribute evenly into the prepared mini pie shells.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes with a sheet pan underneath to catch any dripping.
Notes
To make one pie instead of mini pies, press the pie crust into a 9" pan. Pour all the filling into the pie shell then bake for 50-60 minutes. Cover the crust with aluminum foil partway through baking so the crust doesn't get burnt.

Recipe slightly adapted from Patrick & Gina Neely.

Mini Baked Turkey Meatballs

Mini Baked Turkey Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

Have you ever had a dish or ingredient that you just can’t ever seem to get right? That sums up my relationship with ground turkey, well at least until I tried these baked turkey meatballs. Meatballs made with ground turkey that are juicy, moist and mouthwatering delicious? Yes folks, I promise you it exists!

Mini Baked Turkey Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

After dry turkey burgers and tasteless turkey meatloaf I was ready to give up on this healthy protein. I wanted something healthy to go along with my spaghetti squash with spinach and mushroom marinara so I decided I would give it one more shot and was met with great success! And deliciousness. They were also easy enough to whip up on a weeknight, which is always a huge bonus.

Mini Baked Turkey Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

This recipe makes enough meatballs to have freezable leftovers so you can have meatballs all week long. Everyone tends to just think of meatballs with spaghetti, but there are endless possibilities with these tasty cuties. Add some melted provolone and have meatballs sliders. Serve them with brown rice & stir fried vegetables for a quick and healthy meal. Heat a few in tomato soup for some added protein. Eat a couple on top of a Greek salad. Or just enjoy them on a big pile of spaghetti with loads of Parmesan.

Mini Baked Turkey Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mini Baked Turkey Meatballs
 
Yield: 40 mini meatballs
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • ½ cup grated fresh Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey (look for ground turkey that isn't all turkey breast meat)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing combine all the ingredients except the turkey. Add the ground turkey and mix until just combined.
  3. Form the meatballs with a diameter of 1½" and place evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
Notes
To freeze, place the cooled meatballs so they aren't touching on a baking sheet small enough to fit in your freezer lined with parchment paper. Once the meatballs feel frozen, store in a freezer bag. To reheat, place in sauce while warming up. To heat in the microwave, cook for 1.5-2 minutes for 3 meatballs; 3 minutes for 6 meatballs.

Recipe slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes I’m in the mood to just go to town on a big plate of food. I don’t like feeling guilty about it though so I recently came up with this easy stuff-yourself-silly dish:  spaghetti squash with spinach and mushroom marinara. Are you familiar with spaghetti squash? When baked the squash’s strands resemble angel hair pasta in appearance and texture. The taste is pretty mild and is a great pasta substitute. Plus one cup of cooked spaghetti squash has only 42 calories. Yes I typed that number accurately.

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara  |  Lemon & Mocha

When you get home from the grocery store with this huge oblong squash your first challenge will be breaking the sucker open. Do not underestimate this task! You will need a large sharp knife and a level cutting surface. It may take a few tries and certainly will not be perfect, unless of course you are skilled in the art of slicing large hard objects in half lengthwise, but try your best.

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara  |  Lemon & Mocha

Once the spaghetti squash is cut in half you will shake your head and think I’m playing an early April Fool’s Day joke on you as you wonder how in the world is that solid hunk of squash ever going to resemble spaghetti strands. Well you just have to trust me on this! It is purely amazing food magic. Scoop out the seeds then bake the squash until tender. Once it’s cool enough to handle a simple scraping with a fork transforms the squash into thin strands. Mix with some marinara, cooked spinach, sautéed mushrooms and fresh Parmesan and you’re ready to indulge!

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 package sliced cremini mushrooms, about 5 ounces
  • 1½ cups preferred marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces frozen spinach, prepared according to package instructions
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the spaghetti squash on a baking sheet flesh side up. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Scrape the tines of a fork along the cooked squash to create the strands. It sounds weird, but as soon as you do it you will understand what I mean. Continue scraping until you reach the skin and all the flesh has been turned into strands.
  4. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds then add the sliced mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked then add the marinara and prepared spinach.
  5. Add the spaghetti squash strands and toss well with tongs until well combined with the sauce and spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot topped with the Parmesan.

 

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love discovering new ways to cook up my favorite vegetables instead of my usual steaming or roasting methods. When I came across these snow peas with toasted walnuts and dried cranberries I knew I had to make them. The flavor profile screams fall and nicely complements the dry rubbed roast pork tenderloin I posted last week.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I like to cook the snow peas until they are just tender, but still have plenty of crunch so the little peas pop out of the pods when you bite into them. It’s the little things, folks. This side dish can be made in less than 10 minutes making it a huge keeper in my book.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

The tartness of the dried cranberries and lemon juice pairs well with the nutty earthiness of the toasted walnuts.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I used the same dried orange cranberries I bought from Trader Joe’s that I used in my fall trail mix and that hint of orange seemed to make the dish even more flavorful. If you aren’t able to find orange cranberries you could try substituting half the lemon juice for orange juice or adding just the faintest amount of orange zest to the finished peas.

Sautéed Snow Peas with Cranberries & Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces snow peas
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ⅓ cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the snow peas and sauté until bright green, but not floppy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Recipe from Vegetarian for a New Generation:  Seasonal Vegetable Dishes for Vegetarians, Vegans, and the Rest of Us.