Appetizers & Snacks

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.

 

Baked Apple Chips

Baked Apple Chips  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s apple time again! After Tuesday’s slightly involved, albeit delicious and deceptively easy, dish I wanted to share something that required minimal effort and ingredients. I’m talking three ingredients and three steps. Boom! How exciting is that? We could all use a few more minimal effort recipes in our lives.

Baked Apple Chips  |  Lemon & Mocha

Homemade apple chips are a great on-the-go snack. They are also enjoyable on top of salads, in spiced sweet potato and apple soup, and by themselves for Netflix marathons. Thin apple slices are lightly coated with spiced sugar then left to bake in the oven. Staying in the oven for so long on a low temperature takes a lot of the moisture out of them leaving you with a nice crunchy chip-like texture. But, they still have the taste of apple. Thus apple chips. You probably got that by now, but I figured I would point it out anyways.

Baked Apple Chips  |  Lemon & Mocha

They are quite addictive. However, I must share one warning with all you soon-to-be-apple-chip-makers:  they sit in the oven for a long, long time. This is not a make it in 20 minutes kind of snack. We’re talking almost 2 hours in the oven. So just make sure you read the recipe thoroughly, all four lines of it, long before you plan to actual create this treat so you aren’t disappointed or late for your Netflix marathon.

Baked Apple Chips  |  Lemon & Mocha

Baked Apple Chips
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 Pink Lady apples
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Cut each apple in half (make one cut through the apple halfway between the bottom and the stem, do not cut from the stem downward). Thinly slice the apple using a mandolin. You can core the apple, but then you won’t get the pretty stars in the middle.
  3. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large bag. Add the apple slices and shake until they are completely coated. You may have to open the bag up to separate some of the slices. Lay the apple slices evenly on the prepared baking sheet then bake for one hour.
  4. Remove from the oven, flip over, then bake for another hour. When the second hour is up, remove the pan from the oven then carefully move the apple chips to a cooling rack. The apple slices will continue to fully crisp while they are cooling.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

Caramelized Onion & Apple Dip

Caramelized Onion & Apple Dip  |  Lemon & Mocha

To celebrate fall I am doing a series of four posts featuring a quintessential fall ingredient: apples! Every year Matt and I go apple picking with his parents at an orchard near their house. For us, this annual ritual signifies the official transition out of summer. In typical New England fashion, some years it is still sunny shorts-weather while other years we have three different layers on trying to stay warm. But what is always the same is the overwhelming fresh smell of apples.

Caramelized Onion & Apple Dip  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although we haven’t had a chance to go yet this year between other people’s weddings and our own exciting planning, I wanted to provide some inspired recipes for all you fall apple-pickers out there. Whether you’re an apple-picker, seasonal farmers’ market shopper or price-savvy grocery store buyer, this caramelized onion and apple dip is a mouthwatering start to the season’s freshest produce.

Caramelized Onion & Apple Dip  |  Lemon & Mocha

Caramelizing onions mellows their taste while breaking down the natural sugars leading to a browned and slightly sweetened result. True onion caramelization takes around 35-40 minutes, however I used a semi-caramelized quick version in this recipe. The end result is just as delicious.

Caramelized Onion & Apple Dip  |  Lemon & Mocha

The onions are combined with tart Pink Lady apples, creamy herb cheese, salty shredded Parmesan and Gruyere before baked until bubbly. This hot dip is addictive on warm baguette slices, salty pretzel chips or grilled pork chops.

Caramelized Onion & Apple Dip  |  Lemon & Mocha

Caramelized Onion & Apple Dip
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium sweet onions, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 2 sweet-tart apples, such as Pink Lady, peeled and diced
  • 2 ounces soft herb cheese, such as Boursin or herb goat cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter in the skillet then add the onions and chives. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and have started to brown about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the apples. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the soft herb cheese then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Evenly sprinkle the shredded cheeses over top then bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until cheeses are bubbly and browned. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes before eating.

Recipe slightly adapted from October 2014 Issue 107 of Cuisine at Home.