Appetizers & Snacks

Honey Walnut Baked Brie

Honey Walnut Baked Brie  |  Lemon & Mocha

Brie is a heavenly cheese. Encased inside an edible rind, brie has a creamy and buttery texture with a mild taste. When I was younger I used to take my best friend up to New Hampshire to go skiing with me and my family. Her parents used to give us a little food-packed thank you basket every time. The sole reason I remember this is because of the brie.

Honey Walnut Baked Brie  |  Lemon & Mocha

Oh the brie! There was always a wheel of it and my friend and I would dive right in, no serving dishes needed.

Honey Walnut Baked Brie  |  Lemon & Mocha

Brie’s versatility makes it pair well with everything from turkey artichoke paninis to wedges of apple. Sweeter flavors also complement brie well because it’s so mild and you know how I feel about my sweets.

Honey Walnut Baked Brie  |  Lemon & Mocha

This honey walnut topped baked brie is a simple and addictive happy hour appetizer or dinner party dessert. Well, pre-dessert, actual dessert must still be involved.

Honey Walnut Baked Brie  |  Lemon & Mocha

Brie is already a spreadable cheese, but when you melt it into warm gooey deliciousness it becomes both spreadable and habit-forming. The honey and walnuts on top add just the right amount of sweetness, earthiness and texture to really elevate the baked brie. And doesn’t the topping make it look fancy? You can serve this baked brie on its own, but I like to serve it with warm soft bread or raisin crostini.

Honey Walnut Baked Brie  |  Lemon & Mocha

Honey Walnut Baked Brie
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 wheel of brie
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the brie in a baking dish. Top with the honey and the walnuts then bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Serve hot with crostini, slices of bread or crackers.

Recipe slightly adapted The Food Network.

Sweet & Sticky Honey Baked Wings

Sweet & Sticky Honey Baked Wings  |  Lemon & Mocha

Remember my Uncle Rob from the filet tailgate sandwiches with whiskey marinade? Well he is a multi-talented man. In addition to grilling up delicious tailgate eats he also harvests honey! As in he has bees in the backyard and a complete beekeeper’s suit. “Rob’s Love Nectar”- check it out! I may be afraid of the bees, but I certainly love their honey.

Sweet & Sticky Honey Baked Wings  |  Lemon & Mocha

Recently Uncle Rob mailed me a big bottle of his honey so I decided to make a series of honey posts out of it. These sticky and sweet honey baked wings are the first of four honey installments and are definitely the best way to kick off this series.

Sweet & Sticky Honey Baked Wings  |  Lemon & Mocha

I was am will-always-be obsessed with these wings. The marinade consists of honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and rice wine vinegar to create a balanced flavor profile. The honey caramelizes while the wings are baking in the oven and makes these bad boys incredibly addictive. Finger-lickin’-can’t-breathe-too-busy-eating addictive.

Sweet & Sticky Honey Baked Wings  |  Lemon & Mocha

They are also extremely low maintenance as you can just stick them in the oven and let the magic happen. I was very nervous to break down the wings myself, but after a couple snips with a pair of kitchen shears I had the process down.

Sweet & Sticky Honey Baked Wings  |  Lemon & Mocha

Currently Rob’s Love Nectar is only available through personal gifting, but shop local honey and support your neighboring beekeepers! Also honey pollinated from bees local to your area is said to help with seasonal allergies so that’s another reason to source your honey locally.

Sweet & Sticky Honey Baked Wings  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sweet & Sticky Honey Baked Wings
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 pounds chicken wings & drumettes
  • 1 scallion, chopped, for garnish
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9" x 13" with nonstick tin foil and set aside.
  2. Combine the soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger in a medium saucepan with a whisk. Bring the honey mixture to a boil then simmer on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Place the split chicken wings in the prepared pan. Pour the heated honey mixture over the wings then toss to coat.
  4. Bake the chicken wings for about 1 hour or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and the skin has darkened. Garnish wings with scallions and sesame seeds before serving.
Notes
To break down the wings follow the steps below:
*Clip off the wing tip at the knuckle using a pair of kitchen shears. Dispose the wing tip or save for homemade chicken stock.
*Make a small snip in the fat between the wing and the drumette so it's easier to get to the joint.
*Cut the knuckle between the wing and the drumette to separate them.
*Cut off any excess fat.

Recipe from the Cookin’ Canuck.

Coconut Lime Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Coconut Lime Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Growing up we never ate Chinese food in my house. I’m not sure why considering how delicious sesame chicken and crab rangoons taste. Thai food, on the other hand, was a regular staple in our house.

Coconut Lime Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Whether we would get takeout or go to a nearby thai restaurant we always ordered the chicken satay with peanut sauce. Everything on a stick tastes better because it’s more fun to eat, but this dish is more than that. The combination of sweet, sour and savory makes each bite delightful and peanut sauce is incredibly addictive. Let’s be honest, we’re all just in it for the peanut sauce.

Coconut Lime Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chicken satay is one restaurant takeout that you can definitely bring to your own kitchen. I’ve made it a few times and always had excellent results.

Coconut Lime Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

As far as pad thai goes I am currently leaving that dish to the experts after a few failed attempts involving accidentally purchasing an incorrect ingredient at an Asian market. Matt and I will never know what that pink-gray paste was we ate that night… But I digress! This dish is foolproof, tasty and doesn’t involve any ingredients that might lead you astray.

Coconut Lime Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

The peanut sauce, the most important part, combines coconut milk to add some creaminess and fresh ginger to provide an elevated flavor. Play around with the ratio of coconut milk to peanut butter to get your preferred flavor and consistency.

Coconut Lime Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Coconut Lime Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
for the chicken satay
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced into thin strips
for the peanut sauce
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½” piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Directions
for the chicken satay
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the chicken in a large mixing bowl with a whisk. Add the chicken strips and toss until well coated. Cover and refrigerate to allow the chicken to marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Heat the grill or grill pan over high heat. Evenly thread the chicken strips with skewers. If using wooden skewers soak them in water first.
  3. Grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for a 1-2 more minutes per side or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Serve with the peanut sauce.
for the peanut sauce
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. If you would prefer a thicker consistency add more peanut butter then remix. If you would prefer a thinner consistency add more coconut milk then remix.

Satay adapted from Steamy Kitchen.
Peanut sauce slightly adapted from Shared Appetite
.

Aunt Jen’s Chicken Ginger Dumplings

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

It seems most people that cook a fair amount have a signature dish. It may not even be their own recipe and it certainly doesn’t have to be fancy, but when you tingle with anticipation knowing what they will bring to every dinner party, family outing or potluck, then you have discovered their signature dish.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

There are quite a few members of my family with multiple signature dishes. One of these talented people is my Aunt Jen. Everything she makes is delicious, but one of her party appetizers that always gets everyone into a mad feeding frenzy is her chicken dumplings.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

As with any dumpling, the filling is where this recipe stands out. Bursting with tender ground chicken and a punch of flavor from the ginger and scallions these bites are perfectly paired with any soy sauce based dipping sauce you have on hand.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

The second best part of these dumplings, because you can’t compete with the taste, is that other than the time involved, creating these smash party bites is a quite simple process.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

Throw together the filling in a food processor, stuff and enclose the pre-made wrappers and steam. Then eat of course. Or share if you’re nice like my Aunt Jen.

Chicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & MochaChicken Ginger Dumplings  |  Lemon & Mocha

Aunt Jen's Chicken Ginger Dumplings
 
Yield: 6-8 appetizer servings
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 6 scallions, white and green separate, chopped
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, optional
  • 1 package wonton wrappers, about 40-50 wrappers
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. If you are going to cook them right away then prepare a steamer basket by lining with a round piece of parchment paper. This will keep the dumplings from sticking while they cook. I’ve read that you can also use a small plate, but I’ve never tried it.
  2. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and white parts of the scallions until fragrant and the onions are slightly translucent.
  3. Combine the chicken and sautéed vegetables in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  4. Place the processed chicken mixture into a medium mixing bowl then add the green parts of the scallions, the soy sauce, the remaining 1½ tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper and cilantro, if using. Mix until just combined.
  5. Fill a small bowl or cup with warm water and set aside. Make sure wonton wrappers not in use are covered so they don’t dry out. To fill the dumplings place a teaspoon of filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Use your finger to rub some water onto the edge of the wrapper to help it seal together. When folding in half bring two corners together to create a large triangle, making sure to squeeze out any air. Tightly pinch with your fingers to seal. To create the shape in these images bring the two opposite points of the triangle together and pinch. Lay the sealed dumplings on the baking sheet while you are making the rest.
  6. If you are cooking the dumplings right away steam them in a single layer on the parchment paper lined steamer basket for 12 minutes. Once they are cooked you can sauté them in sesame oil for a couple minutes on each side if desired. Serve with soy sauce. If you are freezing them for later place the baking sheet in the freezer until they have frozen individually before moving them all to a large freezer bag. To cook from frozen steam for at least 20 minutes. Whether you are cooking right away or freezing the dumplings for later work in batches so they aren’t sitting out for too long. This might cause them to dry out and lose their seal.

 

Crisp Gnocchi Salad with Shiitakes and Asparagus

My brother gave me one of the most thoughtful Christmas gifts last year: a copy of this beautiful Tasting Colorado cookbook. Every recipe is a popular dish from a Colorado restaurant, covering everything from fluffy biscuits to local mouthwatering steak. Not only did I wish I could stuff my face into every picture and eat the contents, but I’ve actually been to a few of the restaurants!

Although he’s a Boston native, Colorado stole my brother’s heart 10 years ago and he’s lived there ever since. I get a chance to visit him once or twice a year and for those of you who have never been add it to your bucket list. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and I’ve had some of my favorite dishes there.

While flipping through the cookbook and mopping drool from my mouth I was so excited to stumble upon this recipe from the restaurant Six89. Six89 closed in 2012 and their gnocchi salad disappeared along with it. Until now.

I cannot properly express in words the deliciousness of this dish. The crispy gnocchi together with the savory shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and nutty Parmesan is enough to have you going back for more. But when you add the shallot vinaigrette and leafy greens this meal becomes irresistible.

You can certainly use store-bought gnocchi to make this dish, but I highly recommend taking the extra time to tackle homemade gnocchi to experience the full potential of each mouthwatering bite.

Gnocchi Salad with Shiitakes and Asparagus
 
Yield: 4 appetizer servings
Ingredients
for the gnocchi
  • 2 cups gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups asparagus, blanched and cut into 1” pieces
for the vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 4 cups baby field greens
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh grated Parmesan, for serving
Directions
  1. Boil the gnocchi in a medium saucepan until they float to the top and are heated through, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the gnocchi until crispy and lightly browned.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium then add the shallots and sauté until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the asparagus slices and sauté until warmed through then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
for the vinaigrette
  1. Combine the shallots, mustard, oregano and white wine vinegar. Whisk together well with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the gnocchi with 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Plate the gnocchi.
  2. Toss the baby field greens with some of the vinaigrette and place over the gnocchi. Top each plate with a generous serving of fresh grated Parmesan.

Recipe from Tasting Colorado:  Favorite Recipes from the Centennial State.