Christmas

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

We made it to Friday! Woo hoo! Time to celebrate with these Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts.

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve written about my large quantity of cookbook recipes I have yet to try, but I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned all my recipe binders here before. I have four enormous binders that are filled to the brim with recipes. Most of them contain recipes from magazines although one of them is devoted to recipes I’ve printed out. And you guessed it – most of them are waiting for me to try them!

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have a somewhat decent system where once I try one of the recipes if I like it then the recipe will usually end up on Lemon & Mocha so I can recycle the original. Of course, if I don’t like it then it immediately gets recycled. This way if I’m able to try some new recipes from the binder every once in a while I’m able to make room for all the new recipes I’m continually trying to shove in them. I figured I was long overdue in turning to my binders for some dinner inspiration. These roasted sweet potatoes from Cuisine at Home immediately caught my eye.

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love sweet potatoes, but I tend to simply roast them as wedges or bake them whole, which can get really boring. This recipe is just as easy, but adds an extra depth of flavor and richness to the potatoes. The sweet potato wedges are tossed in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and salt and pepper. The brown sugar creates a subtle sweetness and caramelization, while the balsamic vinegar provides the right amount of acidity.

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Crunchy toasted walnuts and creamy gorgonzola crumbles get tossed on top as soon as the roasted wedges are out of the oven. I decided to toss half the cheese crumbles on top of the potatoes during the last minute of cooking so that some of them got nicely melted while the others I sprinkled on top after they were out of the oven held their shape more to add an additional textural element to the dish. This works well with blue cheese crumbles as well, which is what I used since that’s what was in my fridge. I hope you enjoy this simple and delicious sweet potato recipe!

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Gorgonzola and Walnuts
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 sweet potatoes, about 16 ounces total
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toasted walnuts, for topping (see note)
  • Gorgonzola crumbles, for topping
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cut each sweet potatoes into 16 wedges. First, cut the sweet potato lengthwise. Then cut the sweet potato half into 4 long wedges. Cut each wedge in half to create 8 shorter wedges. Repeat for the other half of the sweet potato then repeat completely for the second sweet potato. Toss the sweet potato wedges in the bowl with the balsamic mixture. Place the wedges in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake the sweet potato wedges for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until they are slightly caramelized and tender. Remove from the oven and immediately top with the toasted walnuts and gorgonzola crumbles before serving.
Notes
To toast walnuts, lay them on a single layer baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees F. Watch them carefully as you do not want them to burn and it doesn’t take long for them to get toasted.

 Recipe from December 2011 issue of Cuisine at Home.

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Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms

Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Do you cook from cookbooks often? I have a few cookbooks that I’ve made countless recipes from and have shared on here: Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook, The Perfect Scoop, Cook This, Not That! and Pati’s Mexican Table. Then I have a whole bunch of cookbooks that I’ve drooled over the pages of many, many times, but that I have yet, years later, to make any of the recipes. Every year I say that this will be the year I cook from all the cookbooks I’ve never used before, but this year I mean it and I’m already off to a great start! In addition to a few recipes I have picked out for the blog, like these epic Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms, I thought maybe I would be more motivated if I turned over some of the selection power to Matt.

Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Last month Matt picked a cookbook I haven’t cooked anything from yet along with a recipe from that book and then we cooked it together. It wasn’t for the blog so there was no pressure for it to look good or to be made during daylight hours for photograph reasons. January’s pick was an Eight-Hour Skirt Steak with Balsamic Mushrooms from Sous Vide at Home, which he had gotten me last year. Matt cooked most of the dish himself and it was incredible! This month, Matt picked the Half Baked Harvest Cookbook, who is one one of my favorite food bloggers, and we’re going to be making her Farmhouse Cheddar and Angel Hair Frittata next week. Yum – I can’t wait to try it! I’m liking this new monthly tradition, although if any of the recipes become new favorites then I of course will have to re-make them to share with you all!

Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Today I’m sharing these cheesy, garlicky and buttery Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier, which is Ree Drummond’s second cookbook. Button mushroom caps are lightly sautéed in butter before being stuffed with chunks of creamy brie cheese and baking in the oven. The best part is the sautéed parsley, garlic and green onions that get poured overtop the mushrooms.

Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

This party appetizer is so simple, but looks really fancy, making it perfect for the holidays or even an Oscar party! According to Ree, “Guests will kiss you and demand to be invited back next time” so make sure you make these mushrooms for company you like!

Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Are you excited for the Oscars? Matt and I missed all the best picture nominees in theaters except for Black Panther, so we’re going to be streaming some of them this weekend to try to catch up. This article shares where to watch all the best picture nominees if you’re interested. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms  |  Lemon & Mocha

Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms
 
Yield: 15-18 mushrooms
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces white button mushrooms, washed and stems removed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 scallions, ends removed and sliced
  • Splash of white wine (optional)
  • 8 ounces Brie cheese, cut into bite-size chunks
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter then add the mushroom caps. Toss the mushroom caps in the melted butter. Lightly season with salt and pepper then let sauté for a minute. Remove from the mushrooms from the skillet. Add the parsley, garlic and scallions to the skillet. If you’re using the white wine, add it now. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, then remove from the heat.
  3. Place the mushroom caps, stem-side up, in a baking dish. A square baking pan or pie dish works well. Add a chunk of brie to the opening of each mushroom cap then pour the parsley mixture over the top. Bake until the cheese has melted, about 15 minutes. Serve them after they’ve cooled slightly.

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier.
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!

Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all having a fun-filled weekend so far! I wanted to pop in this Sunday with a quick recipe before all my family Christmas festivities got started. I saved this recipe for the last minute because it’s so easy, but I wanted to make sure I shared it because these Candied Pecans are seriously addictive.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

If they look familiar it’s because I first made them to go on top of my Pumpkin Pecan Ice Cream Pie I shared before Thanksgiving. When I made them for the ice cream pie I was so excited by how tasty they were that I decided the pecans deserved their own post here on Lemon and Mocha.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Most recipes I’ve seen online for candied pecans use butter, but this recipe actually uses a single egg white instead. The egg white and vanilla extract are beaten until frothy before tossing with the pecans, which then get coated with brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves. The pecans get the best crispy and sugary spiced coating on the outside without any greasiness of butter. If you’re like me and have been baking like crazy all holiday season then you probably have all these ingredients in your pantry right now to whip up a batch.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I just made a batch for putting on top of my browned butter pecan cheesecake for Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house and I may have sneaked one or two (or ten) for myself. They are perfect for sprinkling on cakes, cheesecakes, trifles or ice cream, but they also taste crazy delicious just by themselves. Especially warm out of the oven – drooling over here! Simply put them in a bowl for snacking alongside dessert or use as part of a sweet and salty cheese and snack board.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends and I’ll be back here with a fun post on Wednesday!

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Candied Pecans
 
Yield: A little more than 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces pecan halves
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg white and vanilla until frothy. Add the pecan halves then toss to completely coat. Spoon the coated pecans into the bowl with the sugars, trying to leave any excess egg white behind. Place on the prepared baking sheet and spread out the pecans. Bake for 1 hour, tossing the pecans on the pan every 15 minutes. I use a spatula to separate the pecans from the parchment paper then spread them back out in an even layer before putting back in the oven.

 

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

Does anyone else think this year flew by? Here we are, already looking at the December muffins! As I mentioned in my October Apple Pumpkin Muffins post I decided not to make the Food Network Magazine’s December muffins, which were candied cherry muffins. I might try those muffins at some point in the future because they sound good, but with all the cookies and fudge I was making this holiday season I wanted something a little lighter on the sugar. Instead, I decided to bake these Healthy Gingerbread Muffins from Ambitious Kitchen.

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

They are free of refined sugar and instead use maple syrup and molasses as the sweeteners. There’s a few other healthy swaps in this recipe, such as using whole wheat flour, nonfat plain Greek yogurt and olive oil instead of butter. These are a great breakfast muffin, especially since they’re studded with tasty chopped walnuts and chocolate chips. Matt and I enjoyed these muffins, but they are definitely “healthier” muffins.

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

Without the refined sugar they are noticeably less sweet than muffins I’ve posted already this year and they have a less moist texture that you get from using whole wheat flour and minimal fat when baking. The best way I can describe them is that if you already don’t eat a lot of sugar or full fat foods then their “healthiness” won’t be that noticeable to you, but if you are in full Christmas cookie mood you could whip them up in January to jump-start your sugar detox. Like most of the muffins I posted this year, they freeze well, so for now ours are in the freezer to pop out whenever we need a quick and healthy breakfast.

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

It definitely is interesting how your body adjusts to the sugars you are eating. Over the summer I was eating very little processed sugar. I made some “healthy” chocolate brownies and thought they tasted amazing. I froze a bunch of them and recently tried one, mid-holiday cookies-for-every-meal mode, and thought they tasted horrible! Do any of you have a refined sugar free lifestyle or have you ever “quit” sugar before?

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins
 
Yield: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour, see note
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk (any fat percentage or almond milk)
  • ⅓ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, optional
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts, optional
  • Coarse sugar, optional for sprinkling on top
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners and spray the inside of the liners with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the milk, yogurt, maple syrup, molasses, olive oil, vanilla and beaten egg. Stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped walnuts, if using.
  3. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared paper liners. The batter should fill each liner ½ way up. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with coarse sugar. Bake the muffins for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a couple crumbs. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, them remove to a wire cooling rack to completely cool.
Notes
If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, take 1½ cups whole wheat flour then remove 1½ tablespoons of it. Add in 1½ tablespoons of cornstarch and sift together.

Recipe slightly adapted from Ambitious Kitchen.

Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites

Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

I know I say this all the time, but you need to try these Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites! This perfect party appetizer has all your favorite flavors of antipasto packed into one creamy bite. I love making appetizers with store-bought puff pastry because they look so fancy, but are actually incredibly easy. The puff pastry does all the work resulting in a buttery and flaky vessel for all the antipasto fixings.

Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m not sure if you can tell from the photos, but these bites are made in a mini muffin pan so they’re really small, like a one bite deal. Since we are working with limited space inside these little flaky cups I decided to incorporate the artichokes and roasted red peppers by turning them into a simple artichoke dip. The artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers are chopped up then mixed with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and a secret ingredient to make the easiest and creamiest artichoke and red pepper dip ever.

Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

Then on top we have some salami and a mini mozzarella ball to round out our antipasto flavors. You can add in some olives if you like, but Matt and I aren’t olive fans so I left those out. Top with some fresh basil or Italian parsley and you’ve made a delicious twist on a classic antipasto!

Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

Make sure you read the instructions through and do not put the mozzarella on until they are out of the oven. Mozzarella melts really easily so if you put it in the oven each bite will just be covered in a pool of melted mozzarella. Since we’re using fresh mozzarella balls you really want to be able to taste them so we’re adding them after the bites are all baked.

Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

My Crab Dip Puffs recipe is working overtime around here because that, along with my love for antipasto platters, inspired this recipe, too! I hope you all enjoy this one!

Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites  |  Lemon & Mocha

Antipasto Puff Pastry Bites
 
Yield: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted, but still cold
  • 3 artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • ⅓ cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • ⅓ cup Hellman’s real mayonnaise
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 ounces hard salami
  • 6 ciliegine size mini fresh mozzarella balls
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley for serving, optional
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. Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven.
  3. While the puffy pastry bites are in the oven, mix together the chopped artichokes, chopped roasted red peppers, mayonnaise, Parmesan and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut the salami into 6 thick rounds then cut each round into quarters.
  4. 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 artichoke dip. Spoon the artichoke dip into the puff pastry bites, about a teaspoon per bite. Keep dividing the dip among the bites until all the dip has been used up. Add a piece of salami to the top of each bite, but off to the side to leave room for the mozzarella. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  5. While the bites are in the oven, cut each mozzarella ball into quarters. When the bites come out of the oven let them cool slightly then use a spoon to help you remove them from the pan and place on a platter. Top each bite with a quartered mozzarella ball and the fresh basil or parsley, if using. Serve hot.
Notes
If you want to roast your own red peppers, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a pan or line with nonstick aluminum foil and roast a whole red bell pepper for 20 minutes. Flip the pepper then roast for another 20 minutes. When it’s cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard along with the stem and seeds.