Fourth of July

Triple Berry Naked Angel Food Cake

Triple Berry Naked Angel Food Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

Don’t worry, I promise this cake isn’t scandalous. Definitely delicious, but certainly not scandalous. It is called a naked cake because the sides aren’t frosted, but I will get to that in a bit. Last month we celebrated Matt’s 30th birthday!

Triple Berry Naked Angel Food Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

When Matt and I first started dating during our sophomore year of college we celebrated his 20th birthday – that’s a whole decade of birthdays! We had only been dating for a few weeks, but I made him these very literal cupcakes.

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I’ve clearly come a long way- ha! I’ve made Matt many birthday desserts over the years, but I wanted this one to be extra special.

Triple Berry Naked Angel Food Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

I decided to turn one of Matt’s favorite desserts, this Summer Berry Trifle, into a layer cake. The cake layers are angel food cake that have been brushed with a simple lemon syrup to keep them extra moist and bursting with light lemon flavor. The creamy filling and topping is a sturdy whipped cream. Basically, the base of a cream cheese frosting folded in with lots and lots of Cool Whip to make it light and fluffy. Piled in the middle and on top are sweet fresh berries. I used a combination of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Altogether, they make a fresh and light cake – perfect for eating a big slice.

Triple Berry Naked Angel Food Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

When you get a big bite of the syrup-brushed cake with the cream filling and the berries it is completely magical.

Triple Berry Naked Angel Food Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now, to the scandalous aspect of the cake. A naked cake simply means that there is little or no icing on the sides of the cake, letting the layers bare all. The layers of whipped filling in the middle and on the top of the cake are thick enough that you really don’t need the additional filling on the sides of the cake. Leaving the cake naked lets the beautiful berries in the middle of the cake peek out. It also saves you time from having to try to make the sides look perfect and smooth – a win-win!

Triple Berry Naked Angel Food Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

I think a cake this delicious is great any time of the year, but it is especially fitting for a summer gathering with berry season soon approaching. Enjoy!

Triple Berry Naked Angel Food Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

Triple Berry Angel Food Cake Trifle
 
Yield: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 box angel food cake mix, batter prepared according to directions on box
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon or almond extract
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 16 ounces reduced fat Cool Whip
  • 8 ounces strawberries, washed
  • 1 cup blackberries, washed
  • 1 cup raspberries, washed
  • More berries for topping, if needed
Directions
  1. To make two round cakes, I lined two 9” round pans with parchment paper. I divided the batter between the two prepared pans, making sure not to fill them more than ¾ full. You will most likely have some excess batter. I weighed them with my kitchen scale to make sure they would be even layers. Bake at the temperature specified by the box for 20-30 minutes. The cake is done when the top is dark golden brown and the top cracks are dry not sticky. When it’s done baking, tilt the pan on its side. I leaned mine up, cake facing down, against a raised cooling rack. Once it’s completely cool, run a knife around the edges of the pan then carefully remove.
  2. Over medium-high heat in a small saucepan heat ¼ cup of the sugar and ¼ cup of the lemon juice. Stir frequently while heating until the sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon extract. Set aside.
  3. Beat the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cream cheese on medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Fold in the Cool Whip until smooth. Stir in the tablespoon of lemon juice. Take one of the cooled angel food cake rounds and brush the top with the lemon syrup. Spoon a bunch of the whipped filling onto the cake and smooth with a spatula. Put half of the berries in a single layer on top of the filling. I left the blackberries and raspberries whole, but I halved and quartered the strawberries depending on how big they were. Dollop some more of the whipped filling on top of the berries then carefully smooth it out over the berries with a spatula. Top with the second angel food cake layer. Brush the top with the lemon syrup. Spread a thick layer of the whipped filling on top and smooth with a spatula. Top with the remaining berries. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from the July/August 2010 issue of The Food Network Magazine.

No-Bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie

No-bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie  |  Lemon & Mocha

This summer has been slipping away! I had a recipe all planned to share with you for the Fourth of July, but suddenly it was the week before the holiday weekend and I hadn’t cooked or photographed it yet.

No-bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie  |  Lemon & Mocha

I knew I couldn’t let the week pass by without providing some holiday-worthy red, white and blue inspiration so I grabbed everything I needed, whipped it together and snapped some photos. All for you. Don’t you feel special?

No-bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie  |  Lemon & Mocha

I first made this No-bake Red, White and Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie back in college. The recipe was actually in a Kraft ad in my Food Network magazine that summer and with my newly discovered lemon obsession I knew I had to make it for Matt and I.

No-bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie  |  Lemon & Mocha

The pie was light, refreshing and super simple to put together.

No-bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie  |  Lemon & Mocha

Somehow I forgot all about it until I was racking my brain for a creative red, white and blue dessert idea.

No-bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you remember my Summer Berry Trifle blog post from the other year I am always looking for new spins on the traditional flag Fourth of July cake I used to make every year with my grandma.

No-bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie  |  Lemon & Mocha

This No-bake Red, White and Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie is perfect and will make you the hero of your barbecue! Plus, did I mention that there’s only 8 ingredients and NO BAKING? Enjoy!

No-bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie  |  Lemon & Mocha

No-bake Red, White & Blue Lemonade Cheesecake Pie
 
Yield: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 10 graham cracker squares, crushed into crumbs (about 1.5 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip, thawed
  • Halved strawberries, for topping
  • Blueberries, for topping
Directions
  1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a medium mixing bowl until they come together and resemble coarse crumbs. Press into the bottom and sides of a lightly greased 9-inch pie pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to make sure the crumbs are packed down tightly. Refrigerate for 2 hours before using.
  2. In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until whipped and creamy.
  3. Slowly add the ½ cup of lemonade concentrate (be sure not to add the whole can!) and beat after each addition. Once well combined, fold in two cups of the Cool Whip. Pour the mixture into the crust and refrigerate for four hours.
  4. When ready to serve, top with the remaining Cool Whip, strawberries and blueberries. You could top with the fruit beforehand, but the red juice from the strawberries might run on the Cool Whip.
Notes
If you want to skip the first step simply use a pre-made graham cracker crust. I use light cream cheese and light Cool Whip, but regular or light works for this recipe. This pie (and crust) both freeze well.

Recipe slightly adapted from Kraft Recipes.

Diane’s Orzo Pasta Salad

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My stepmom’s orzo pasta salad is a delicious regular at all our family barbecues. It has a great combination of ingredients with the saltiness from the feta cheese and the sweetness from the bell peppers and grape tomatoes. Also whole olives which olive lovers enjoy and non-olive lovers rejoice that they can easily pick them out and plop them on their fellow olive lovers’ plates.

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The best part is the orzo tossed in the simple vinaigrette. What is orzo? Although it may be shaped like rice pilaf, orzo is a pasta. It is typically made with semolina flour, which is denser than white flour and helps the orzo keep its shape and bite after being cooked. This makes it the perfect choice for a make ahead pasta salad since most traditional pasta can get mushy from sitting in a vinaigrette overnight. Not this dish!

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My stepmom has been making this exact winning combination of ingredients for the Greek orzo pasta salad for years so it would be ill-advised to mess with the best.

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

However, as with any pasta salad one of the beauties is that with a good base and vinaigrette you can mix and match according to your own tastes and preferences.

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Not a feta fan? Swap in some goat cheese. Not big on bell peppers? Toss in some sliced snow peas. The possibilities are endless! But make sure you try this possibility first :)

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad
 
Yield: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound box orzo, cooked as directed being sure not to overcook
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 4-5 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 can large black olives, drained
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. In a large bowl combine the cooked orzo with the olive oil until completely coated. Add the bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
  2. Mix in the feta cheese. Adjust salt and pepper according to taste. Refrigerate until serving, making sure to mix well before serving.

 

Uncle Rob’s Tailgate Filet Sandwiches with Whiskey Marinade

Tailgate Filet Steak Sandwiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

I ate a lot of delicious dishes at my family’s beach trip earlier this month, but my new favorite was my Uncle Rob’s tailgate filet sandwiches with whiskey marinade. He wanted to do something for Lemon & Mocha so I told him to come up with his signature dish for me to photograph while we were down at the beach. He did not disappoint with these succulent steak sandwiches.

Tailgate Filet Steak Sandwiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

During football season my Uncle is a regular tailgater at his alma mater, Villanova. He makes these regularly and I am sure they go fast. They certainly would if I was there!

Tailgate Filet Steak Sandwiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

My Uncle Rob and my Aunt Dottie, who hails from the University of Delaware, have a fun football rivalry tradition. Every fall Villanova and the University of Delaware play a big game. The person with the losing school has to place the winning school’s vanity plate on their car for the entirety of the year. My Uncle Rob wanted me to be sure to point out that Villanova has been on quite the winning streak 😉

Tailgate Filet Steak Sandwiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

No matter what team you’re rooting for this fall these delicious sandwiches will soften even the fiercest rivalry!

Tailgate Filet Steak Sandwiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

Matt and I don’t have steak often as it is usually our splurge meal, but I will definitely be making these sandwiches soon especially since I was already craving them the next morning. Enjoy!

Tailgate Filet Steak Sandwiches  |  Lemon & Mocha

Uncle Rob's Tailgate Filet Sandwiches with Whiskey Marinade
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup whiskey
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup dijon mustard
  • ¼ packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup minced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of worcestershire sauce
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 6 1" thick filets
  • 6 pretzel buns
  • Pepper jack cheese, horseradish sauce and lettuce for serving, optional
  • 6 pack of beer for the chef, age permitting
Directions
  1. Combine the whiskey, soy sauce, mustard, brown sugar, onions, salt, worcestershire and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place the filets on a cutting board and top with plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet pound filets until they are ½" thick.
  3. Combine the filets and marinade in a large plastic bag to marinate for 6-8 hours.
  4. Heat grill to high heat. Grill according to desired doneness. For medium-rare, grill for 3 minutes on one side, flip and grill for 2 more minutes before letting rest for 3-5 minutes before eating.
Notes
If you can't find filet, possible substitutions include eye of round steak or hanger steak.

 

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Can you believe summer is already almost over? Not to remind you or anything, but it’s August! Where does the time go? I don’t have nearly enough time to cook all the dishes I would like to, so it’s very rare when there’s a dish I go back to again and again. This watermelon salad is one of those dishes.

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Simple as it seems, this watermelon salad with feta and a citrus mint vinaigrette was my favorite recipe I discovered all last summer. Everyone I made it for requested the recipe. It is refreshing, healthy and has a surprisingly delightful flavor profile.

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & MochaI remember looking at the list of ingredients on the Food Network website and thinking, “this is going to be interesting…” But it all works and comes together in a seriously tasty way.

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The vinaigrette consists of lemon and orange juices, minced shallots, honey for some sweetness and to brighten the salad some fresh mint. Of course some olive oil, salt and pepper are added to the mix. The little cubes of watermelon soak up just the right amount of the dressing and the feta adds some saltiness to balance the dish.

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Eat this as a snack, appetizer or side dish along with your summer meals.

Watermelon & Feta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Watermelon & Feta Salad
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, about 2 lemons
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ seedless watermelon, rind removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 3-4 large fresh mint leaves, julienned
Directions
  1. In a large measuring cup or small bowl whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallot, honey, salt and pepper. While continuing to whisk carefully pour in the olive oil. Continue whisking until combined well.
  2. Place the watermelon in a large serving bowl, top with the feta and mint, then top with enough of the vinaigrette to coat the watermelon. Gently toss. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed then serve immediately.
Notes
Do not combine the vinaigrette with the watermelon until right before serving.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Food Network.