Holiday

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.

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.

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.