Appetizers & Snacks

Baked Brie Fruit & Nut Tartlets

Baked Brie Fruit & Nut Tartlets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes the tastiest recipes are born out of a classic fridge and freezer clean-out. Last month I was trying to clear out our freezer to have space for all the freezer meals I prepped in anticipation of our little guy’s arrival. Side note: I plan to do a detailed freezer meal prep post when I’m back from my maternity leave so stay tuned!

Baked Brie Fruit & Nut Tartlets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Anyways, the freezer was stuffed with all sorts of odds and ends, one of which was a package of these frozen mini fillo shells. I can’t for the life of me remember why I bought them, but it was clearly for some recipe that never came to be. While I was brainstorming what to stuff the flaky tartlet shells with I thought about how much I love baked brie, especially in the fall when it starts getting chilly outside.

Baked Brie Fruit & Nut Tartlets  |  Lemon & Mocha

These bites are a take on a baked brie that’s been cooked until gooey and smothered with warm nuts and dried fruit. The first time I made them they were really good, but they needed more of that gooey brie so I adjusted the recipe to ensure you won’t be missing the cheese in your tartlets.

Baked Brie Fruit & Nut Tartlets  |  Lemon & Mocha

For the topping, we’re combining crunchy toasted pecans, tart dried cranberries, dried apricots and some apricot preserves for a little sweetness. This mixture gets dolloped on top of the brie in the fillo shells before being baked for just ten minutes. These is a great mini appetizer for Thanksgiving or a Christmas party, especially because it is so incredibly quick to throw together.

Baked Brie Fruit & Nut Tartlets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now, I hope you all have enjoyed the last several savory recipes because from this Friday until Christmas Lemon & Mocha is going to be all about the sweets! I’m doing something fun and exciting this holiday season: Lemon & Mocha’s 12 Days of Cookies. I have so many must-make cookie recipes to share and I can’t wait for you to see them all!

Baked Brie Fruit & Nut Tartlets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Baked Brie Fruit & Nut Tartlets
 
Yield: 15 tartlets
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 4 dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 6 ounces brie, rind removed
  • 15 frozen mini fillo shells (Athens brand)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Toast the pecans. Place the chopped pecans on a baking sheet then bake for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the toasted pecans, dried cranberries, chopped apricots and apricot preserves. Set aside.
  4. Place the tartlet shells on a baking sheet. Cut the brie so you can put a small wedge into the bottom of each tartlet shell. Cover the brie in the tartlet shell with a spoonful of the apricot mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

 

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Wow! Wow! Wow! I do not know how else to start this post, but that’s all that flashes in my brain when I think about these epic Pepperoni Pizza Rolls. The rolls are crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and packed full of pepperoni pizza flavor. There’s plenty of garlic and herb seasoning as well as melted mozzarella cheese and pepperoni slices. When they come hot out of the oven a little melted butter, fresh parsley and Parmesan gets brushed on top before serving. Dip a bite into some warm marinara and it’s just like eating a slice of pepperoni pizza except, dare I say it, better!

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tomorrow is National Pepperoni Pizza and since it’s also pizza Friday I thought it would be perfect to post a recipe for pepperoni pizza. I had all of the ingredients ready to go, but couldn’t get motivated to deal with either my pizza stone or my countertop pizza oven and the rolling and stretching of the pizza dough involved. I started brainstorming for an easier solution and came up with these epic Pepperoni Pizza Rolls.

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

The shredded mozzarella and chopped pepperoni slices get kneaded right into the pizza dough. You then make the dough into a ball, cut it into eight pieces and roll each piece into its own little ball. The little dough balls get baked at 475 degrees F for twelve minutes and voila! Time to eat!

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

The secret that makes these even easier is that we’re using Sunny Anderson’s 1-2-3 pizza dough as the base for this recipe. I first saw this published in my Food Network Magazine a few years ago and decided that I finally needed to try it. The 1-2-3 is for the only ingredients involved: 1 tablespoon of garlic and herb seasoning, 2 cups of plain Greek yogurt and 3 cups of self rising flour. I halved this to get eight Pepperoni Pizza Rolls, although they’re so good that if you’re making them for more than just your family you will want to double the recipe I have below! It sounds odd, but the ingredients get mixed together with a dough hook in a stand mixer (or you could mix and then knead by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer) and somehow create the most delicious dough.

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you don’t want to use self-rising flour I included a note in the recipe, but it really helps making them even easier. I promise that even the most novice home cook could nail this recipe – and it only takes twenty minutes to make including the baking time! These are definitely going to be a new regular recipe of mine. Try them out – I know you will love them just as much as we do!

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls
 
Yield: 8 rolls
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups self rising flour
  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup sliced pepperonis
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Marinara, for serving
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, lightly spray with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Add the self rising flour, Greek yogurt, Italian seasoning and garlic powder to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with a dough hook on medium speed until combined, stopping and scraping down the sides and bottom at least once. Continue until the dough comes together.
  3. Add the mozzarella cheese to the bowl of the stand mixer. Chop the sliced pepperonis and add to the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix on medium-low speed until incorporated. Take the dough out of the bowl, form into a large ball and place on a cutting board. Slightly flatten the dough ball then cut into 8 even wedges. Roll each wedge into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.
  4. While the pizza rolls are in the oven, combine the melted butter, chopped parsley and grated Parmesan in a small bowl. Sprinkle in a little Italian seasoning. When the rolls come out of the oven, brush the tops with the melted butter mixture. Serve hot with the marinara sauce.
Notes
If you don’t have self-rising flour use the following substitution: 1½ cups all-purpose flour, 2¼ teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt plus ⅛ teaspoon salt.

 Pizza dough recipe adapted from June 2017 issue of Food Network Magazine.

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Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde  |  Lemon & Mocha

I find it so interesting how your tastebuds evolve over time. If you had told me when I first started this blog back in 2013 that I would be all jazzed up about a Salsa Verde with jalapeños, tomatillos and cilantro I’m sure I would have wrinkled my nose and shook my head at you.

Salsa Verde  |  Lemon & Mocha

Fast forward to Matt’s Cinco de Mayo themed birthday a couple years ago where I made a whole bunch of recipes from a now favorite cookbook of mine, Pati’s Mexican Table. I decided to make the roasted salsa and the Salsa Verde, mostly for Matt and my brother-in-law, Nick, rather than myself. Little did I know how obsessed with it I was going to be!

Salsa Verde  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I’ve made salsas in the past I’ve been disappointed in their blandness, but both these salsas had such depth of flavor I couldn’t stop digging in for more! It’s especially surprising for the Salsa Verde considering we are just boiling everything for a little, pureeing together then quickly warming on the stove-top. The layering of zesty tomatillos with fresh cilantro, lime, onion, garlic and salt is pure magic. I love that you can completely control the heat level of this salsa by what parts of the jalapeño you use. I don’t like any spiciness so I leave the seeds and pith completely out. The jalapeño flesh alone does not make it spicy, but adds to that flavor punch.

Salsa Verde  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve never been a fan of cilantro so the first time I made this Salsa Verde I used half cilantro and half parsley. My cilantro tastebuds must be evolving because when I just made it again I used all cilantro and I was still just as hooked. If you can’t stand cilantro please, please don’t just skip over this recipe! Try making it with all parsley because it is too good not to try. You could even try adding in the tiniest bit of cilantro; you might surprise yourself!

Salsa Verde  |  Lemon & Mocha

Salsa Verde
 
Yield: About 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 jalapeños, see note
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped white onion
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (can include top parts of stems)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Directions
  1. Add the tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño to a medium saucepan and then cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer covered for 10 minutes. The tomatillos should become pale green and should be soft, but not falling apart.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño to a high-speed blender or food processor. Add the onion, cilantro and salt then puree until smooth.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the salsa and cook until thickened slightly, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm or refrigerate for later and serve cold or at room temperature.
Notes
If you don’t want your salsa spicy only use 1 jalapeño and remove all the seeds and pith before putting in the blender. If you like it spicy try 1 jalapeño with the seeds and pith and if you want it even more spicy you could add a second jalapeño.

Recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table.
Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for my referral. This does not affect the retail cost of the item. Thank you for supporting Lemon & Mocha!

Duck Carnitas Nacho Bites with Blue Cheese and Blackberry Ale Sauce

Duck Carnitas Nacho Bites with Blue Cheese and Blackberry Ale Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m so excited to share this recipe! Matt and I have been to San Diego together twice now and both times we went to different Ballast Point breweries. Matt is a big fan of their beers and, as we discovered on our first visit, they also serve awesome food. The first time we ordered their duck confit nachos: fresh tortilla chips piled high with crispy duck, a creamy blue cheese sauce, pickled red onions and a tangy sour ale blackberry sauce.

Duck Carnitas Nacho Bites with Blue Cheese and Blackberry Ale Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

The combination had us dreaming about this appetizer until we were back in San Diego two years later and could order it again. I decided this summer I needed to at least attempt to re-create this dish so we wouldn’t have to wait until our next San Diego trip to eat it again.

Duck Carnitas Nacho Bites with Blue Cheese and Blackberry Ale Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I loved how my Elote Wonton Bites turned out so instead of a full plate of nachos we have Duck Carnitas Nacho Bites with Blue Cheese and Blackberry Ale Sauce. These little wonton cups have a lot of components, but a bite of everything all together is pure magic. It helps that you can make the duck carnitas, wonton cups, blackberry ale sauce and pickled red onions ahead of time.

Duck Carnitas Nacho Bites with Blue Cheese and Blackberry Ale Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I was most concerned about making the duck because I have never cooked or even bought duck before except at a restaurant. The larger Whole Foods near me stocks duck legs so I placed those in my dutch oven along with orange juice, orange wedges and some seasonings. The duck legs came out so crispy and juicy! Considering how simple it was to just put everything in the pot and let it cook I will definitely be cooking duck again for Matt and I! Who knew it was so easy to get such restaurant-worthy results?

Duck Carnitas Nacho Bites with Blue Cheese and Blackberry Ale Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since we want the tender duck to be crispy for these nacho bites, I turned them into duck carnitas by shredding the duck meat and searing it on the stove-top for twenty minutes. Delicious! I love that we can eat this dish now whenever we feel that craving hit to hold us over until we can get back to San Diego again!

Duck Carnitas Nacho Bites with Blue Cheese and Blackberry Ale Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Duck Carnitas Nacho Bites with Blue Cheese and Blackberry Ale Sauce
 
Yield: 24 wonton bites
Ingredients
for the duck carnitas
  • 1 pound fresh duck legs, about 2 legs
  • 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of cinnamon
for the pickled red onions
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
for the blue cheese sauce
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup blue cheese crumbles
for the blackberry reduction
  • 4 ounces fresh blackberries
  • ⅓ cup sour ale
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
for the wonton cups
  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • ⅔ cup blue cheese crumbles
Directions
for the duck carnitas
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the duck legs, skin side up, in a Dutch oven or other heavy oven safe pot with a lid. Add juice of the whole orange and the seasonings to the pot. Stir to combine then cut up the spent orange into wedges and toss in as well. Put on the lid and cook 1½ hours. Remove from the oven. Once it’s cool enough to handle, shred the meat and skin, discarding the bones, any excess fat and orange wedges. I also discarded some of the skin. Heat the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook until the shredded duck is crispy, about 20 minutes, stirring often and being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot.
for the pickled red onions
  1. Combine the water, apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves then remove from the heat.
  2. Place the sliced red onions in a bowl then pour the vinegar mixture over top. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour
for the blue cheese sauce
  1. Gently heat the cream in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Once the cream starts to bubble, add the blue cheese crumbles. Stir and whisk while the blue cheese melts until the sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat.
for the blackberry reduction
  1. Heat the blackberries, ⅓ cup of the beer and the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Let cook for 10 minutes while the blackberries reduce. Remove from the heat and let cool. Once cool, either use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the seeds or puree in a high speed blender.
for the wonton cups
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a mini muffin pan then place the wrappers into the cavities so they create little wonton bowls. Lightly spray the wonton wrappers in the pan then bake for 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
  3. After the wontons have baked on their own, spoon the duck into the wontons in the mini muffin pan, evenly dividing between them. Top with the blue cheese crumbles. Bake for 6-8 more minutes. Top with the pickled red onions, a drizzle of blue cheese sauce and a generous drizzle of blackberry reduction then serve hot.
Notes
Duck can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple days. No need to reheat the duck before baking in the wonton cups.
Pickled red onions can be made and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks. Drain the onions before using.
Blackberry reduction can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. Reheat gently on the stove-top or in the microwave at half power.

 

Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp Topped with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple

Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp Topped with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have another restaurant inspired dish for you! I say inspired because it is actually quite different from the original. This time it’s from a New England classic – Legal Sea Foods. There’s a few restaurants Matt and I have been to over and over and Legal Sea Foods is definitely in that category. It helps that there’s a lot of them here in Massachusetts and that we’ve always seemed to have one near us, whether it was the one in Chestnut Hill while we were still at Boston College or the one in Harvard Square that we could walk to when we lived in Cambridge.

Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp Topped with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple  |  Lemon & Mocha

It was at their Harvard Square location that we first tried their Thai style fried calamari. It is described on the menu simply as “Thai style – pineapple and peanuts,” and when it came out we could smell the rich peanut sauce.

Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp Topped with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple  |  Lemon & Mocha

The crispy fried calamari was smothered in an addictive peanut sauce, scallions, chopped peanuts and pineapple chunks. We were hooked! They are actually pretty spicy and normally I cannot do spice, but I will happily suffer through every time just for some of these saucy, crispy calamari bites!

Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp Topped with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now if you’re wondering why I’m talking about calamari when this is clearly a shrimp recipe that is a big part of why I’m using the word “inspired.” This Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple can be served as a party appetizer or as a main course alongside some rice and salad.

Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp Topped with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple  |  Lemon & Mocha

The panko breadcrumbs, which are already crunchy, get pre-baked to ensure they create the crispiest coating for the shrimp. The shredded coconut is another departure from the original, but I love the flavor combination along with the peanut sauce and pineapple. A little savory, a little sweet and a whole lot of deliciousness. I hope you enjoy these Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple!

Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp Topped with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple  |  Lemon & Mocha

Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp Topped with Peanut Sauce and Pineapple
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the shrimp
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • Salt and pepper
for the peanut sauce
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter (don’t use natural peanut butter)
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons light coconut milk or water (depending on how thick you want your sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Directions
for the shrimp
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the panko and coconut on a baking sheet then bake until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss with ½ teaspoon salt.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place a wire cooling rack on top of baking sheet then spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set up a breading station for the shrimp with three shallow bowls. Place the flour tossed with salt and pepper in the first one. Add the beaten eggs to the second one and the panko mixture to the third.
  3. Bread the shrimp. Coat with the flour, shaking off excess, then dip in the egg, letting excess drip off. Coat completely in the panko mixture then place on the prepared wire rack. Repeat until all the shrimp are breaded then bake for 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately along with the peanut sauce, chopped peanuts, scallions and pineapple.
for the peanut sauce
  1. Whisk everything together until combined.
Notes
If you don’t want to use coconut, just omit it and add an additional ½ cup of panko.

Baked shrimp recipe from Pinch and Swirl.