Main Dishes

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

This is one of those simple recipes that I make regularly at our house and I’m finally getting around to sharing with you all. Whether you’re a kid or an adult it’s hard to beat a satisfying quick meal of crunchy chicken nuggets!

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although grocery stores are loaded with plenty of chicken nugget options, it’s super easy to make a batch of homemade chicken nuggets to stash in your freezer for quick lunches and weeknight dinners. Baking them ourselves is also healthier and cleaner eating since we’re using just four ingredients (if you don’t count the seasonings).

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

These little baked nuggets are crunchy, tender and ready for dipping into ketchup, honey mustard or whatever your preferred chicken nugget dipping sauce is! Now I’m sure most of you are curious about the crispiness and the freezing aspect so let’s dive right in.

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Are the chicken nuggets crispy?

Yes! So, so crispy! The nuggets get cooked on a wire cooling rack set on a baking sheet. The reason we do this is that, much like an air fryer, it allows the heat from the oven to circulate all around the chicken nuggets. This ensures the whole nugget is crispy. The nuggets are also crispy from the whole wheat panko breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are bigger, flakier and airier than regular breadcrumbs, giving the coating a great crunch. I like using whole wheat panko breadcrumbs for the chicken nuggets because they’re a little healthier and because they have a nice golden color to them. If you use regular panko breadcrumbs the chicken nuggets will still taste just as good, but they will be very pale.

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

How do you freeze and reheat the chicken nuggets?

You can either freeze the chicken nuggets raw or cooked. I prefer to freeze them cooked to drastically cut down on reheating time since I make these for us to have as a quick meal. If you want to freeze the cooked chicken nuggets, let them cool completely then put in a freezer bag or freezer safe container. When you’re ready to reheat the cooked nuggets, bake in a 400 degree F oven until warm, about 10 minutes. No need to do the whole cooling rack/baking sheet thing for reheating; simply reheat on a baking sheet. Or, since they’re already cooked you could reheat them in the microwave for a super quick meal, but they will lose a lot of their crispiness. If you want to the freeze the nuggets raw, place the breaded nuggets on a parchment lined baking sheet then freeze until solid. Once frozen, place in a freezer bag or freezer safe container. To bake them raw from frozen, follow the same baking instructions, but you will have to add cook time to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F since you’re baking them from frozen.

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & MochaFreezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¼ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder for seasoning
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Set up your breading station. In one shallow bowl, beat the eggs. Place the panko in a second shallow bowl. In a third shallow bowl, add the flour then season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  3. Bread the chicken nuggets. First, coat completely in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Then coat completely in the egg mixture, letting any excess drip off. Finally, coat completely in the panko mixture then place on the prepared wire rack. Repeat for the remaining chicken nuggets. I usually do about 6 pieces at a time. Bake the chicken nuggets for 20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  4. If freezing, let the nuggets cool completely. Then store in a freezer bag or freezer safe container. When ready to eat, bake on 400 degrees F until warm, about 10 minutes.

 

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

Halloween is tomorrow! Yay! As I’ve mentioned on Lemon & Mocha numerous times before, I love Halloween! I have so many fun childhood memories of Halloween and I can’t wait to start making Halloween memories with our little guy on the way.

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

We went back and forth on whether we should put up Halloween decorations with me being just a couple weeks away from my due date, but ultimately I just couldn’t not put them up, even though I felt a little crazy for doing it. Do you decorate your house for Halloween?

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

I usually post a chocolatey treat for Halloween, but since Matt and I are up to our eyeballs with all the desserts I’ve been baking I busted out a cute savory treat instead.

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

Turkey sliders have been fashioned into silly Halloween monsters, complete with cucumber eyeballs and pickle tongues! As fun as these Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders are, they’re also so good! The turkey patties are juicy and packed with flavor because we’ve added a minced mixture of mushrooms, shallot and parsley to the ground turkey.

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

Throw in a little olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning and then they are grilled or pan-seared to perfection. Since they’re so tiny they cook really quickly; just about four minutes on each side. Top it all off with some melty cheese and fresh veggies for a delicious dinner the whole family will love. Just don’t forget to cut pointy teeth marks into your sliced cheese! Happy Halloween, everyone!

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

Looking for some more Halloween treat inspiration? I have a few recipes below to get you started:

Boozy Pumpkin Nutella Hot Chocolate  |  Lemon & Mocha

Boozy Pumpkin Nutella Hot Chocolate

Leftover Halloween Candy Chocolate Lasagna

Leftover Halloween Candy Chocolate Lasagna

Halloween Witch Chocolate Cupcakes

Halloween Witch Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Marshmallow Monster Cookie Sandwiches

Chocolate Marshmallow Monster Cookie Sandwiches

Halloween Witches' Cauldron Cupcakes

Halloween Witches’ Cauldron Cupcakes

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms, stems removed, plus more for eyes
  • ½ shallot
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 pound ground turkey, 90% lean
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 16 toothpicks
  • 4 slices deli cheddar or American cheese
  • 8 slider buns
  • 8 small pieces of romaine lettuce
  • 8 small slices of tomato
  • 4 pickle sandwich slices, cut in half
  • Ketchup
Directions
  1. Add the cremini mushrooms, shallot and parsley to a food processor. Process until finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop by hand.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mushroom mixture, ground turkey, olive oil, Worcestershire, salt and pepper, being sure not to over-mix. Divide the mixture into 8 even portions and form into slider patties, roughly a little bigger than the size of your slider buns. Let patties set in the fridge, covered, for 30 minutes.
  3. While the patties are in the fridge, prep your monster eyes and cheese teeth. Slice the English cucumber so you have 16 rounds. The slices can be thin, but not so thin that you’ll have difficulty securing them with a toothpick. Use extra cremini mushrooms to cut out little circles that will be the center of the eyes. Carve a little round out of the center of an English cucumber slice the size of one of your mushroom eye centers. Stick the mushroom center into the hole in the cucumber and stick a toothpick up through the cucumber and the mushroom piece securing it in place. Repeat for the remaining 15 eyes. For the cheese teeth, cut each slice of cheese in half then cut little teeth points at the edge of each slice. Repeat until you have 8 cheese teeth slices.
  4. Lightly spray a grill pan or nonstick sauté pan with olive oil cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the slider patties for 4 minutes on each side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove from the heat and add a cheese teeth slice to each slider so that the teeth prongs overhang a little.
  5. To assemble a slider, place a piece of lettuce on the bottom slider bun. Top with a tomato slice then the cheese-topped patty. Lift up the cheese a little to tuck the pickle half underneath so it sticks out like a tongue. Top with some ketchup then the top slider bun. Stick two cucumber toothpick eyeballs into the top. Repeat for the remaining sliders.

 

Light Baked Spaghetti

Light Baked Spaghetti  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love a good one dish meal. Not exactly a one pot meal since we’re cooking in a pot and a sauté pan on the stove before putting everything in a baking dish. But one dish where all the protein, veggies and starch are combined for an all-in-one meal deal.

Light Baked Spaghetti  |  Lemon & Mocha

You’re probably sitting on your phone or computer thinking, um, Lauren, it’s called a casserole. But casseroles are usually cooked slowly in the oven, while this Light Baked Spaghetti is mostly cooked on the stovetop and then just baked a little extra in the oven to get warm and melt the cheeses.

Light Baked Spaghetti  |  Lemon & Mocha

There’s so much goodness in this meal! It’s basically a hybrid of a spaghetti dinner and sausage, peppers and onions. We’ve loaded in angel hair pasta, a simple tomato and basil sauce, chicken sausage, sautéed mushrooms, peppers and onions and some gooey cheese.

Light Baked Spaghetti  |  Lemon & Mocha

You can use any type of chicken sausage you prefer. I used a sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausage from Wegman’s and it was perfect. The original recipe calls for whole wheat pasta, which you can certainly use if you like it. Matt and I aren’t big fans of whole wheat pasta so instead I used Barilla Protein Plus.

Light Baked Spaghetti  |  Lemon & Mocha

Matt and I ate this Light Baked Spaghetti three nights in a row for dinner and we weren’t mad about it one bit. In fact, we missed it when it was all gone! I hope you all enjoy this baked pasta dish!

Light Baked Spaghetti  |  Lemon & Mocha

Light Baked Spaghetti
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta, whole wheat or preferred type
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces chicken sausage, crumbled, see note
  • 2 bell peppers, stems removed and diced, see note
  • 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • ½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cooking spray
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil then cook pasta according to package instructions for al dente, drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the crumbled chicken sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt and Italian seasoning. Cook until the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil and ¾ cup of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes. The sauce should be thickened slightly.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9”x13” pan with cooking spray.
  5. When the sauce is done simmering, toss in the pasta until coated. Add half the pasta mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle with half of each cheese then add the remaining pasta mixture on top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, removing the foil with 5 minutes left. If you want the top to be crunchier you can broil for a couple minutes at the end. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
You can use any type of chicken sausage you prefer. Sweet Italian, roasted garlic or sun-dried tomato and basil are all great options. If your chicken sausages have thick casings that are able to be removed then remove them before crumbling. If the casings are soft and crumble along with the sausage then just do that instead.
You can use any type of bell peppers you prefer. I don’t like green peppers so I used 1 red pepper and 1 orange pepper.

 Recipe from January/February 2012 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!

Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles

Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Have you jumped on the spiralizing bandwagon yet? I’ve had the KitchenAid attachment for a couple years now and it makes spiralizing veggies so easy. Spiralized zucchini is my go-to, but I’ve also enjoyed baked spiralized french fries and roasted spiralized beets. I had yet to try spiralized sweet potatoes so I was excited when I came across this recipe for Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles in my Food Network Magazine binder archives.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Once you have your sweet potato noodles, whether you spiralized them yourself or picked some up at the store, this is a quick one-pan meal. The sweet potato noodles get sautéed along with corn, bell pepper and onion. Smoky ground cumin, chili powder, ground coriander, fresh cilantro (or parsley if you dislike cilantro), and plenty of lime juice help give the dish it’s southwestern flair.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles  |  Lemon & Mocha

This is a vegetarian meal so have it for Meatless Monday alongside a small salad, or add a protein of your choice. Matt and I liked it left vegetarian, but I think it would also be great with some chicken sausage or sliced steak on top.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles  |  Lemon & Mocha

When you’re sautéing the sweet potatoes, use the time in the recipe below as a gauge. It will greatly depend on the thickness of your sweet potato noodles. The original recipe photo showed really thin noodles, almost shaved, and I could tell since the cook time they had listed was way too short for my much thicker noodles. You want them cooked through, but still with a little structure to them, otherwise they’ll taste mushy. Also, another note about the recipe is that if you’re looking for some extra zing with these noodles try adding a little zest from the lime. Enjoy!

Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles  |  Lemon & Mocha

Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 small sweet potatoes (about 1¼ pounds), peeled
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, stem removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced into rounds (see note)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Up to ¾ teaspoon chili powder, depending on preference
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime, plus wedges for serving
Directions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add the sweet potato noodles, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pan.
  2. Add the frozen corn to the pan and let get slightly charred, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil (plus more if needed), the red onion, bell pepper and the jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly charred then add the garlic, cumin, chili powder and ground coriander. Cook for 1 minute then add the sweet potato noodles back to the pan. Cook until warm then remove from the heat. Add the cilantro and lime juice. Toss, season with salt and pepper and serve with the lime wedges.
Notes
If you don’t like spicy food, slice the jalapeño in half, remove seeds and pith, then thinly slice into half rounds.

 Recipe adapted from April 2017 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!

Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I want to be clear right from the first sentence that this is not a recipe for homemade butternut squash ravioli. What we’re focusing on today is this easy and delicious brown butter sage sauce. Add some fall raviolis, toasted hazelnuts and crumbled biscotti cookie and you will think you’re at a fine dining restaurant instead of your own kitchen!

Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now, if you’re feeling really ambitious you certainly could use homemade ravioli for this dish, but fall brings a wide variety of fresh butternut squash and pumpkin ravioli to the grocery stores so I’m all about taking advantage to get a quick meal on the table.

Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Every time I see squash ravioli in a brown butter sage sauce on a restaurant menu I always end up ordering it so I decided it was time to make some to enjoy at home. If you’ve never had brown butter, it’s simply butter that has continued to cook over low heat after it has melted until it has a darker color and tastes rich, nutty and toasted.

Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Also, if you’ve never browned butter that means you’ve never made my Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies! If that’s the case please stop reading right now and go bake these cookies!

Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Okay, for those of you that are still with us, the sauce is simply brown butter that we then use to fry a couple sage leaves before removing from the heat. A little seasoning and Parmesan are added before tossing with the cooked ravioli. The toasted hazelnuts and crumbled biscotti add just the right amount of crunch to the finished dish. I love using hazelnuts since they’re so buttery, but you could also use toasted pine nuts or pistachios. Enjoy this one and have a great weekend!

Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 pound fresh butternut squash or pumpkin ravioli
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, torn
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 2 amaretti or biscotti cookies, crumbled
Directions
  1. Toast the hazelnuts. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the chopped hazelnuts on a baking sheet then bake for 3-5 minutes, or until lightly toasting, being careful not to let burn. Set aside.
  2. Cook the fresh ravioli according to the package directions. If they’re done before the browned butter sauce, very lightly toss with olive oil so they don’t stick together.
  3. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Once melted, let the butter continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally. Once the butter is a light tan and starts to smell a lightly nutty, add the torn sage leaves. Let the sage leaves lightly crisp up then remove from the heat. Add the ground nutmeg. Add the cooked raviolis and toss to coat. Add the Parmesan. Plate the raviolis and sauce then top each plate with the toasted hazelnuts and crumbled cookies. Top with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network.