Appetizers & Snacks

Best Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs

Best Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

Guys! And gals! These meatballs? Swooning! I am beyond excited to share this recipe with you today. If you’ve never been to Damn Delicious, go check her blog out. She has some amazing recipes, but these meatballs right here? These are the real deal. These are the best slow cooker cocktail meatballs you will ever have. They are sweet, savory and salty. They are downright addictive.

Best Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have made them for dinner parties, brought them to backyard cookouts and whipped them up for work potlucks. There was one work potluck where they were almost gone by the time it started because we were all sneaking bites during the day. Oh, and it was a lunch potluck so these were being consumed as breakfast meatballs!

Best Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

I also make them for Matt and I whenever a craving strikes one of us. They freeze well, which is perfect for when I make them for just the two of us. If you don’t have a slow cooker you could certainly make them on the stove top, but I love using the slow cooker because you can dump everything in and then not have to think about it other than a stir here or there.

Best Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

The very first time I made these we were having a bunch of friends over. I of course was making about 10 million different dishes because I’m a crazy person and saved these for the last minute. Somehow I hadn’t read the instructions and missed the whole “slow cooker” part even though it was in the title. With everyone arriving in 45 minutes I looked down at the recipe, saw the 3-4 hour part and cursed a whole bunch. However, I was determined to serve these meatballs so I defrosted my frozen meatballs in the microwave, whisked all my sauce ingredients together and microwaved them, and threw everything in the slow cooker. By the time everyone got here and was settled with drinks, the meatballs were hot enough to eat and got rave reviews. Crisis averted!

Best Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

So it is possible to make them quickly if you don’t have time, but a slow cooker is definitely the way to go to save yourself from having a microwave frenzy while still in your sweatpants with guests on their way. I would say I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, but I already know you will!

Best Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

Best Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs
 
Yield: about 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 40 ounces frozen, fully cooked, mini meatballs
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce, about ½ can jellied cranberry
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Place the mini meatballs in a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula to combine. If using jellied cranberry, break it up a little with your spatula.
  2. Cover and cook the meatballs on low for 3-4 hours, stirring several times during cooking. Once the meatballs are cooked through and coated in sauce, serve immediately with toothpicks.
Notes
These can be made ahead. They also freeze well. If you want to save yourself some time you could make the sauce mixture ahead of time, whisking well, and store in a plastic storage container to be poured over the meatballs right before turning on the slow cooker. If you are using jellied cranberry, microwave for 10-30 seconds to soften so you can whisk into the other ingredients.

Recipe from Damn Delicious.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

Could there be any more delicious words in one recipe name? Oozing with melted mozzarella, this bread is begging to be made and shared. But maybe shared with a small group of people so there’s more for you. Unless you bake two, then the more the merrier!

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

In all seriousness, this recipe comes to you from a very special place. It was inspired by my Aunt Karen’s pepperoni bread, which is a definite top three staple at all extended family gatherings. When it comes out of the oven quiet whispers of its presence get spread throughout the party. Everyone fulfills their duty of not being selfish by letting at least one other person know it’s ready without alerting too many people so you have time to go snag some yourself before it’s gone in approximately eight minutes. And eight is probably being generous.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I think of a recipe that is easy, family-friendly, and perfect for large-groups I immediately think of Aunt Karen’s pepperoni bread, however, it doesn’t really make me think of springtime or Easter. So I set out to “springify” the recipe and came up with the Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto you are currently drooling over on your screen. The pesto brightens up the bread and pairs well with the lighter prosciutto, which still brings the same mouthwatering deliciousness as the pepperonis.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

In addition to being completely whisper-worthy delicious, this Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto is a necessary recipe in your repertoire for two other reasons. The first is that even though it looks fancy with its hypnotizing spirals of cheese, pesto, and prosciutto, making it is very simple. I use Trader Joe’s garlic and herb pizza dough (hard to beat $0.99 fresh dough that tastes like you got it at a pizza shop), but you can use any pre-made or homemade pizza dough you wish.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

The pizza dough is rolled out then topped with pesto, fresh Parmesan, and crispy prosciutto. I quickly crisped the prosciutto in a pan over medium-high heat, but you can skip the crisping if you are in even more of a time-crunch. Then comes the shredded mozzarella. After a quick egg wash to seal the edges, the dough gets rolled up, topped with more egg wash and Parmesan, then baked until the top has a gorgeous browned crust and the inside is bursting with gooey cheese. Done!

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

The second reason you need this recipe in your life is that it is a great make-ahead dish. Whether it’s for a weeknight dinner or a dinner party I love make-ahead recipes. Make and bake the Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto ahead of time then when you’re ready to eat it simply reheat wrapped in foil in a warm oven for about 20 minutes. If you want clean and even slices you can cut the bread after it has cooled before wrapping it up like a loaf in the foil. This way after it is warmed in the oven it will already be sliced and ready to be eaten.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you decide to make your own pesto, I highly recommend this kale pesto. I make a batch of it and then freeze it in separate small freezer bags. I lay the sealed bags flat in my freezer to freeze so once they are solid they take up barely any room. Freezing them like that also makes it easy to break off a chunk when you need only a little bit of pesto instead of defrosting the entire bag. Since they are frozen in a thin layer instead of a block they also defrost very quickly.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

I hope you and your family, friends, and lucky taste-testers enjoy this Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto!

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces pizza dough
  • 3 ounces sliced prosciutto
  • 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 1 egg
Directions
  1. Set the dough out to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil and set aside. Meanwhile, crisp the prosciutto in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Flip the prosciutto once it becomes slightly browned then continue to cook until the other side is slightly browned as well. Once done, turn off the pan and lay the crispy prosciutto on a paper towel to soak up any grease.
  2. Using cornmeal or flour so it doesn’t stick, roll out the dough on a clean surface until it is roughly the shape of an 11” x 14” rectangle. I usually hold it then let gravity stretch the dough to get it started. Leaving a 1” border, evenly spread the pesto on the dough. Sprinkle the pesto with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan. Next, evenly lay the crispy prosciutto. Top with the shredded mozzarella.
  3. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Lightly brush the egg on the border you left. Gently fold the short edges in then, working carefully, tightly roll the dough up lengthwise. You want to be rolling from long edge to the other long edge, being sure to tuck in the short edge sides as needed. When you’re done rolling, pinch the dough at the seam to seal it. I like to pinch it twice to make sure it’s really tight. Carefully place the bread roll seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush the egg on all exposed top and sides of the roll then sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan.
  4. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool slightly then cut into slices and serve.

 

Cheesy Corn & Chorizo Dip with Green Chiles

Cheesy Corn & Chorizo Dip with Green Chiles  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love bringing desserts to parties, dinners and potlucks. I know I have a lot of outrageously tasty treats in my repertoire and are sure to have everyone swooning. But for some reason I always get a little panicky when someone asks me to bring an appetizer. There are so many different directions you can go in with an appetizer. Is it going to be hot? Cold? Cheesy? Meaty? Rich? Healthy? Crunchy? Creamy? Spicy? Does everyone like seafood? Are they averse to spinach? Doesn’t someone not like goat cheese? Is it going to pair well with what’s being served for dinner?

Cheesy Corn & Chorizo Dip with Green Chiles  |  Lemon & Mocha

My mind runs on overdrive and I end up exhausted without being even a step closer to what I’m going to bring. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have found the solution. Cheesy corn dip with chorizo and green chiles. It is an instant favorite and is just so stinking good I can’t even stand it.

Cheesy Corn & Chorizo Dip with Green Chiles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Creamy and gooey, this dip has sweetness from the corn and a slight spiciness from the chorizo. The green chiles do not provide any heat and their flavor is similar to sauteed green bell peppers. You can make this dish as spicy or not spicy as you or your guests would like. I also made it with Portuguese sausage, linguica, which is not spicy at all. If your guests like it hot you can always add a few shakes of hot sauce. Serving with tortilla chips adds a salty and crunchy element.

Cheesy Corn & Chorizo Dip with Green Chiles  |  Lemon & Mocha

The best part? This dip is done after 7 minutes in the microwave. No wondering if there’s going to be space in the oven or if you’re going to have enough time to make it before all the guests arrive. Make it ahead, pop it in the microwave when you’re ready to eat it and you’re all set. This is perfect for New Year’s Eve, especially for those of you who are like me and have to work on New Year’s Eve and will most likely be sitting in traffic on the way home. Fun! So stop your appetizer stressing and make this addictive dip!

Cheesy Corn & Chorizo Dip with Green Chiles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Cheesy Corn & Chorizo Dip with Green Chiles
 
Yield: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ pound ground chorizo or linguica (Portuguese sausage)
  • 2 cups frozen corn, cooked
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chiles, drained
  • 1 ¾ cups shredded Monterey jack or pepper jack cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
Directions
  1. Cook the ground meat in a frying pan over medium-high heat until cooked through and sizzling. Drain well on paper towels.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the cooked sausage, chiles, corn, 1 ½ cups of the shredded monterey jack or pepper jack cheese, Parmesan cheese and mayonnaise.
  3. Scoop the mixture into a 9” pie dish or an 8x8” baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of cheese. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to eat, uncover the dish, heat in the microwave for 7 minutes then serve with tortilla chips.
Notes
If you have a block of Monterey jack instead of shredded cheese you can take about 8 ounces of it and cut to a rough small dice.

Recipe slightly adapted from Averie Cooks.

How to Blanch Almonds

How to Blanch Almonds  |  Lemon & Mocha

Blanched almonds are almonds with the brown skins removed and one of the ingredients in last week’s fall trail mix with pumpkin spiced pepitas. I prefer blanched almonds for texture reasons, but they also have a lot of other uses. Skinless almonds provide a smoother texture in baked goods, homemade almond butter and almond flour. Also when cooking with raw almonds, such as in a rice dish, the heat can cause the skins to fall off leaving them loose in your dish, but using blanched almonds solves this dilemma. I am constantly Googling kitchen tricks, tips and substitutes so I thought I would continue to share my favorites on Lemon & Mocha like I did with the homemade brown sugar.

How to Blanch Almonds  |  Lemon & Mocha

Start with some skin-on almonds, usually called raw almonds. You don’t want roasted or salted almonds because you’re going to be removing the skins anyways.

How to Blanch Almonds  |  Lemon & Mocha

Measure out however many blanched almonds you want or that your recipe calls for then bring a pot of water to a boil. Pour the raw almonds into the boiling water and let boil for one minute. Make sure they don’t boil any longer or they might start to get soft.

How to Blanch Almonds  |  Lemon & Mocha

Immediately remove and drain in a colander before rinsing with cold water. You will notice that the skins are slightly shriveled.

How to Blanch Almonds  |  Lemon & Mocha

Working on a clean surface, gently press on the almonds to pop them out of their skins.

How to Blanch Almonds  |  Lemon & Mocha

I used my hand that wasn’t holding the almond to act as a barrier because sometimes the almonds get some force behind them as they’re being popped out of the skins and decide to go flying across your kitchen!

How to Blanch Almonds  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now you have blanched almonds! They will be a little wet and will need to dry or be dried off before using in any recipes.

How to Blanch Almonds
 
Ingredients
  • Raw, skin-on almonds
Directions
  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the raw almonds and boil for exactly 1 minute.
  2. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water.
  3. Working on a clean surface, press on the almonds to pop them out of their skins. Make sure they don't go flying across the kitchen!
  4. Let them dry before using.

 

Fall Trail Mix with Pumpkin Spiced Pepitas

Fall Trail Mix with Pumpkin Spiced Pepitas  |  Lemon & Mocha

October and the following two months often become a slippery slope for me due to my sweet tooth and general food obsession. There’s my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, holiday parties, work potlucks, and Christmas, making it incredibly hard to try and eat well.

Fall Trail Mix with Pumpkin Spiced Pepitas  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m sure most people can relate so with Halloween coming up tomorrow I got to work trying to come up with a healthy snack. Well, healthier than bags of candy bars.

Fall Trail Mix with Pumpkin Spiced Pepitas  |  Lemon & Mocha

Then it dawned on me to make a homemade trail mix full of delightful fall flavors. You can mix and match with whatever you have on hand or enjoy. I loaded mine up with dried orange cranberries, spiced pumpkin seeds and blanched almonds.

Fall Trail Mix with Pumpkin Spiced Pepitas  |  Lemon & Mocha

I of course snuck in just a little bit of chocolate because Halloween wouldn’t be the same without it. But it’s dark chocolate so it’s healthy! Thank goodness for those antioxidants.

Fall Trail Mix with Pumpkin Spiced Pepitas  |  Lemon & Mocha

My mom always used to pack us homemade trail mix when we would go hiking and I’m sure she would love this mix. Perfect for on the go, munch on some during your next road trip, movie night or to avoid eating all the leftover Halloween candy.

Fall Trail Mix with Pumpkin Spiced Pepitas  |  Lemon & Mocha

Fall Trail Mix
 
Yield: 4-6
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup pepitas
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • ½ cup dried orange cranberries, or another tart dried fruit of your choosing, such as dried cherries
  • ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Toss the pepitas with the vegetable oil then spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the pepitas browned and crisp, about 10-15 minutes, making sure to stir every 5 minutes. Once browned, remove the pepitas from the oven then toss with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Let the seasoned pumpkin seeds cool.
  3. Toss together the cooled pumpkin seeds, almonds, orange cranberries & chocolate chips.
Notes
You can find dried orange cranberries & pumpkin spiced pepitas at your local Trader Joe's.