Holiday

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

How fun is this Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter? As I’ve mentioned in past posts, Babu and I used to make a classic flag sheet cake every Fourth of July. Now my new tradition seems to be coming up with a tasty new alternative every year instead! I really enjoyed putting together last year’s Flag Fruit and Dessert Platter and I wanted to do something similar this year.

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

Just like mini appetizer food, dessert boards encourage informal snacking and eating, which is especially welcome during lazy summer barbecue parties. When it’s hot out and all the yummy fruits are in season during the summertime I find myself craving fruity desserts. Even better if they’re light and refreshing. This red, white and blue platter essentially turns an already simple dessert into a top your own angel food cake bar.

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

The white stripes consist of chunks of fluffy angel food cake. Buy it at the store, bake it from scratch or use a box mix; totally up to you! I went basic with the red stripes and just layered juicy strawberries. Strawberries, raspberries and pitted fresh cherries are all great choices that would pair well with the angel food cake.

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

For the blue section of the flag I have a quick sauce made with blueberries. It was my first time making this easy four-ingredient sauce from Barefoot Contessa and it will definitely not be my last. Striking the perfect balance of sweet and tart, the blueberry sauce tastes so good drizzled all over the angel food cake and fresh berries.

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

Finally, in a bowl nearby since it doesn’t really fit into the flag is some homemade whipped cream because you can’t have summer cake and berries without whipped cream! If you’re going for all simple this holiday then just break out some Cool Whip. I promise no one will complain. However, if you do take the extra few minutes to make the fresh whipped cream then I also promise you will have some extra rave reviews of your top your own angel food cake bar. Enjoy and have a great holiday!

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter
 
Yield: 1 platter; 2 cups blueberry sauce
Ingredients
for the platter
  • 1 angel food cake, cut into cubes
  • 24 ounces strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
for the blueberry sauce
  • 1½ pints blueberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Directions
for the platter
  1. Arrange the cake cubes on the platter in stripes, leaving room for the strawberries and a bowl filled with blueberry sauce in the upper left corner. Place the strawberries on the platter right before serving.
  2. In a cold metal bowl of a stand mixer or in a large cold metal mixing bowl with a hand mixer, use cold beaters to beat the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it. You can make the whipped cream a day ahead, just store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve then lightly beat with a whisk.
for the blueberry sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the blueberries, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and ¼ cup water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. The sauce should be thickened. Remove from the heat and blend in a blender or with an immersion blender. Alternatively you could strain in a mesh strainer to remove the blueberry chunks. If you prefer the chunks of blueberries in the sauce then you can just leave it as is. Cool to room temperature then store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Notes
I used a box mix and baked it in two square baking pans. I lined the baking pans with parchment paper then made the angel food cake according to the package instructions, baking at 325 degrees (my pans were nonstick) for 35 minutes, or until the tops were dark golden. When they came out of the oven I leaned the pans on their sides and when they were mostly cool I took them out of the pans and cut them into cubes.

Blueberry sauce recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

Even though it’s still June I’m here sharing the Food Network Magazine July cookies because they are perfect for the Fourth of July. Like the May macarons I skipped, these cookies were slightly involved, but there’s also ice cream so of course I stuck it out.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

Have you ever made homemade ice cream sandwiches? I have a handful of times, but they can be difficult to get right because the texture of the cookies is so important. The cookies needs to be soft enough that they don’t get too hard in the freezer so you can actually bite through the ice cream treat. They also can’t be too soft that the cookie falls apart when you try to put the ice cream sandwich together.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

One thing the Food Network Magazine got right was definitely the texture of the cookies for these Ice Cream Sandwich Stars. I thought they were too soft and underdone when I baked them, but they ended up being just the right texture for ice cream sandwiches. The cookies have a malted milk vanilla flavor that isn’t too sweet, which is another reason they work well for making into ice cream sandwiches. I would not recommend baking and eating these cookies on their own; they seem specifically designed for consuming with creamy vanilla ice cream.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you get the Food Network Magazine then you know their version of these cookies are bright cherry red. I did run out of red gel food coloring so mine shown here only have half the amount the recipe below calls for, but even with the full amount I’m not sure how the cookies would ever be that color since the cookies get fairly browned by being baked in the top 1/3 of the oven. I’m curious to see if anyone else is able to get the ice cream sandwiches that bright red color or if it was all food styling and editing tricks.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

Either way, they still looked cute with all the Fourth of July red, white and blue sprinkles. I have an easy red, white and blue dessert I’ll be sharing next week right before the holiday so stay tuned!

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars
 
Yield: 9 ice cream sandwiches
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons red gel food coloring
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup malted milk powder (such as Carnation original)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Red, white and blue nonpareils or 4th of July sprinkles, for decorating
  • 3 pints vanilla ice cream
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 with the rack positioned in the upper third of the oven. Line a rimmed 13x18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper, buttering the pan so the parchment paper stays put. Butter and four the parchment, tapping out the excess flour.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the vanilla, food coloring and milk. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, malted milk powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, shortening, sugar and brown sugar on low speed until combined. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, beating after each addition, until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the flour mixture then beat on low until just combined. Add the milk mixture and beat on medium until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and then spread until even. Sprinkle the nonpareils or sprinkles over top then bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake is just set. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire cooling rack. Once cool, use a 3¼-inch star cookie cutter to cut out 18 stars. Let the cookie stars sit in the fridge to firm up until you are ready to sandwich then with the ice cream.
  4. While the cake is baking and cooling, cut out the ice cream stars. Line a baking sheet (that will fit in your freezer) with parchment paper. Take 1 pint of ice cream out of the freezer. Turn it on its side and cut into ½-inch thick slices, right through the cardboard and ice cream, starting with the wide end. You will get 3 to 4 slices out of the pint. Place the pint slices on the parchment and remove then cardboard wrapping then place the baking sheet in the fridge to firm up. Once the slices have firmed up, use a 3¼-inch star cookie cutter to cut the slices into stars, placing the ice cream scraps in a container for another use. Put back in the freezer then repeat with the remaining two pints.
  5. Once the ice cream stars are firm enough to handle, working with a few at a time sandwich the ice cream stars between 2 of the cookie stars. Return to the freezer until ready to eat. If not eating right away, wrap them in plastic wrap after they’ve had a chance to firm up.

 Recipe from January/February 2019 issue of Food Network Magazine.

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Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Friday! We’re only two weeks away from 4th of July, which is like the king of barbecue holidays, so I figured it was only fitting to share a backyard barbecue side dish. My pasta obsession I wrote about the other week also extends to pasta salad and it is an essentially part of a barbecue in my opinion. I have quite a few other pasta salad recipes posted on Lemon & Mocha and I will link to those at the bottom of the post.

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I don’t know if I’ve discussed it here on the blog before, but I also love mayonnaise. Those of you who know me are probably nodding and rolling your eyes at that understatement since I actually more than love mayonnaise, but I won’t get into that right now. The important thing to know is that Matt doesn’t like mayonnaise so I’m always looking for ways to make dishes that are traditionally made with all mayo taste less mayo-y.

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

One of my favorite substitutions is to use nonfat plain Greek yogurt. It’s still creamy and rich without the mayo flavor. For this Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad, I have a 50/50 combination of mayonnaise and plain Greek yogurt. It keeps the pasta salad from tasting too heavy, which means you will want to go in for seconds! This pasta salad variation with crisp broccoli, sweet grapes, toasted pecans and salty bacon is actually a very popular one, but if you’ve never had it before I could definitely see how it could seem like an odd pairing. However, it all just works!

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

There’s a great balance of creamy, salty, sweetness and acidity, also due to the red wine vinegar and agave in the recipe. Most recipes call for sugar, but I used agave instead, mostly because I like the taste and how the liquid form blends well with the other ingredients in the pasta salad.

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you like broccoli salads I would recommend reducing the amount of farfalle pasta and increasing the amount of broccoli florets. That is how I’m going to make it next time; there’s something about those tender-crisp broccoli florets covered in bacon crumbles and pecans that I can’t get enough of! Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & MochaSummer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata  |  Lemon & MochaDiane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & MochaPasta Tuna Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces farfalle pasta
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup agave (or sugar), see note
  • ⅓ cup diced red onion
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups red grapes, halved
  • 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the pecans by baking for 5 minutes, shaking the pan once while baking. Set aside to cool.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a large mixing bowl with cold water and ice. Blanche the broccoli florets by boiling them for 30 seconds, removing the florets with a slotted spoon to the ice bath, then drain until completely dry. After removing the broccoli florets from the boiling water, add the farfalle pasta and cook until al dente. Drain until completely dry.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or serving dish, combine the blanched and dry broccoli florets, the cooked and dry farfalle pasta, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, sugar, red onion, red wine vinegar and salt. Let chill for at least 3 hours. When ready to serve, toss with the toasted pecans, grapes and crumbled bacon.
Notes
Start with ¼ cup then increase up to ⅓ cup depending on taste preference.

 

Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites

Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

Hi, friends! I know it has been a bit since I posted, but I was determined to share these Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites before Memorial Day weekend! Is there a more perfect party appetizer than something cheesy stuffed into a flaky puff pastry cup? The Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites and the Crab Dip Puffs are always such a hit that I decided I needed to come up with another version of puff pastry bites. Since Memorial Day is coming up I wanted an appetizer that would fit well on a BBQ menu. It’s hard to go wrong with sweet tender chicken smothered in gooey cheese, especially when it’s in crispy and buttery puff pastry.

Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

I know I talked about this in my Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites post, but I just want to reiterate how easy these little bites are to make. I know, I know, they look so fancy, but that’s just the store-bought puff pastry doing all the hard work for you. Roll out the thawed sheet of puff pastry until it’s a little thinner and larger then cut it into squares. I use my pizza cutter; I definitely don’t make the straightest cuts, but it doesn’t really matter. The little squares of puff pastry get pressed into the cups of a mini muffin pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

After baking just the puff pastry cups for ten minutes you use a spoon to deflate a little cavity into the center of each puff pastry cup then fill with some shredded barbecue chicken and cheddar cheese before baking for another ten minutes. The reason I split up the baking time is by letting the puff pastry bake a little on its own you’re making sure the bottoms will be crispy and completely cooked.

Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I made these for some friends a couple weeks ago I rolled and cut the puff pastry sheet, placed it into the sprayed muffin pan, then covered the whole thing with plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge. That way when everyone arrived I was able to go right to the baking part and it took no time at all to spoon the chicken into the little cups in between the two ten-minute bakes.

Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

These Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites taste awesome as is, but you can also get creative with different toppings to change the taste a little. My friends and I tried some with chopped pineapple on top and when I made them again for the photo shoot I tried them with a small dollop of guacamole. All three ways tasted really good! You could leave out some topping bowls and let guests choose their own different variations. I hope you all love these as much as we do!

Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Puff Pastry Bites
 
Yield: 24 bites
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted, but still cold (mine is usually just right when thawed at room temperature for 35 minutes)
  • 1 cup shredded barbecue chicken, see note
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon finely shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • Finely chopped pineapple for serving, optional
  • Guacamole for serving, optional
  • Cooking spray
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. On a lightly floured surface unfold the puff pastry sheet. Roll into a rectangle about 10” by 15”. Cut the rectangle of puff pastry into 24 squares. Press each square into a cup of the prepared mini muffin pan. Return to the fridge for 10 minutes to chill or cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge until ready to serve. When ready, bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven.
  3. When the puff pastry comes out of the oven, gently press a spoon into the middle of each bite to lightly deflate the middle and make room for the chicken. Spoon the shredded chicken into the puff pastry bites. Sprinkle the top of each bite with some of the shredded cheese. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Serve hot as is or with pineapple and guacamole on top.
Notes
1 cup of shredded barbecue chicken is roughly the equivalent of a 5¼ ounce cooked chicken breast shredded and mixed with barbecue sauce until fully coated. However, shredded barbecue chicken freezes really well so this is what I normally do: Put 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts in your slow cooker. Add almost a whole bottle of original Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce and ½ chopped small onion. Let slow cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred the chicken right in the slow cooker and let cook for 15-30 more minutes. If I make this the day before these puff pastry bites I put what I need in the fridge then freeze the rest. I like to freeze the shredded barbecue chicken in quart freezer bags (flattened after sealing) because they defrost really quickly.

 

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

How cute are these Easter jelly bean cookies?! These Carrot Cake Nest Cookies are the Food Network Magazine’s April cookies, which is perfectly fitting because they just scream springtime. After last month’s complicated Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies I was very excited to see a classic drop cookie – with a twist of course.

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The cookie batter is filled with all the carrot cake staples: grated carrots, chopped toasted walnuts, and the warming spices of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Using brown sugar and an egg yolk gives the cookies that ideal chewy texture, which are similar tips I use in my Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Before being baked, the cookie dough balls are rolled in shredded sweetened coconut. In addition to the chewiness, I love the crunch and texture you get in each bite from the chopped walnuts and shredded coconut.

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

If it stopped there I would still gladly chow down on these carrot cake cookies any day of the week. But there’s more! Piped onto each cooled cookie is a pocket of sweet and buttery cream cheese frosting and some pretty jelly beans. Carrot cake is not complete without cream cheese frosting so it only makes sense for us to frost these cookies to make them truly carrot cake cookies! The little dollop in the middle of the cookie gives just the right balance of cookie to frosting.

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Even though they’re so cute, I thought I was going to end up picking off the jelly beans and eating them separately, but I actually really loved a bite of everything all together! Something about the added texture and sweetness of the jelly bean was a nice touch. I also used some of my favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors so that might have been part of it!

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The recipe calls for blue and white jelly beans, but if you don’t have enough feel free to branch out into other fun Easter pastel colors. I used the blue and white combo ones for the photos, but I had other cookies in this batch topped with pink and purple jelly beans as well. I hope you all enjoy these Carrot Cake Nest Cookies – they were one of my favorites so far!

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies
 
Yield: about 22 cookies
Ingredients
for the cookies
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup finely grated carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1¾ cups shredded sweetened coconut
for the frosting
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Blue and white jelly beans, for topping
Directions
for the cookies
  1. Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium-high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and the vanilla then beat again until well combined. Add the carrots and walnuts then beat again. Slowly add the flour mixture while on low speed and beat until just combined.
  3. Scoop tablespoons of dough then roll the balls into the shredded coconut. I used my medium Oxo cookie scoop. Place 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use the handle of a wooden spoon or something round similar in size to make a deep indentation into the centers of the cookies. Bake the cookies, switching the baking pans halfway through from top to bottom, for 22-24 minutes, or until the cookies are set and the coconut is golden brown. Let cool completely on the pans placed on wire cooling racks.
for the frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag with the corner snipped or a pastry bag fitting with a round tip. If you aren’t ready to use right away, keep refrigerated. Pipe the frosting into the indentation if each cooled cookie then top each cookie with 3 jelly beans.

 Recipe from January/February 2019 issue of Food Network Magazine.

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!