Main Dishes

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes I’m in the mood to just go to town on a big plate of food. I don’t like feeling guilty about it though so I recently came up with this easy stuff-yourself-silly dish:  spaghetti squash with spinach and mushroom marinara. Are you familiar with spaghetti squash? When baked the squash’s strands resemble angel hair pasta in appearance and texture. The taste is pretty mild and is a great pasta substitute. Plus one cup of cooked spaghetti squash has only 42 calories. Yes I typed that number accurately.

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara  |  Lemon & Mocha

When you get home from the grocery store with this huge oblong squash your first challenge will be breaking the sucker open. Do not underestimate this task! You will need a large sharp knife and a level cutting surface. It may take a few tries and certainly will not be perfect, unless of course you are skilled in the art of slicing large hard objects in half lengthwise, but try your best.

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara  |  Lemon & Mocha

Once the spaghetti squash is cut in half you will shake your head and think I’m playing an early April Fool’s Day joke on you as you wonder how in the world is that solid hunk of squash ever going to resemble spaghetti strands. Well you just have to trust me on this! It is purely amazing food magic. Scoop out the seeds then bake the squash until tender. Once it’s cool enough to handle a simple scraping with a fork transforms the squash into thin strands. Mix with some marinara, cooked spinach, sautéed mushrooms and fresh Parmesan and you’re ready to indulge!

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 package sliced cremini mushrooms, about 5 ounces
  • 1½ cups preferred marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces frozen spinach, prepared according to package instructions
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the spaghetti squash on a baking sheet flesh side up. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Scrape the tines of a fork along the cooked squash to create the strands. It sounds weird, but as soon as you do it you will understand what I mean. Continue scraping until you reach the skin and all the flesh has been turned into strands.
  4. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds then add the sliced mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked then add the marinara and prepared spinach.
  5. Add the spaghetti squash strands and toss well with tongs until well combined with the sauce and spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot topped with the Parmesan.

 

Dry Rubbed Roast Pork Tenderloin with a Roasted Garlic & Balsamic Sauce

Dry Rubbed Roast Pork Tenderloin with a Roasted Garlic & Balsamic Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Today I have a simple and healthy dinner for you. Well, a dinner recipe. I am not standing at your front door with this dish, unfortunately, or fortunately if you don’t personally know me and me standing at your door would be creepy. Well I guess even if you do know me suddenly having me on your doorstep would be creepy even then, but I digress.

Dry Rubbed Roast Pork Tenderloin with a Roasted Garlic & Balsamic Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

This roasted pork loin is what we’re here for! And it is delicious! A basic dry rub is pressed onto the meat before being seared in a pan to lock in the flavor and juices. The meat finishes roasting in the oven then topped with a creamy and tangy roasted garlic balsamic sauce and it’s ready to be served.

Dry Rubbed Roast Pork Tenderloin with a Roasted Garlic & Balsamic Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Matt and I usually eat fairly healthy, but I was unsure of where pork lies. After some thorough Googling I have deemed this dish a winner. Although there are certainly some cuts of pork that are not doctor recommended, hello delicious bacon and pork belly, a cut like pork loin is lean if you make sure to remove the excess fat. Additionally, it is a great source of protein and vitamin B! Yay vitamins!

Dry Rubbed Roast Pork Tenderloin with a Roasted Garlic & Balsamic Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Dry Rubbed Roast Pork Tenderloin with a Roasted Garlic & Balsamic Sauce
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the pork
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
for the sauce
  • 1 head garlic
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
for the pork
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl mix together all the dry seasonings until well combined. Place the tenderloin on a cutting board and sprinkle the rub all over. Rub and gently press the seasoning onto the pork.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tenderloin in the pan for 10 minutes, using tongs to turn the pork and sear each side.
  4. Transfer the pork to the rack of a roasting pan and bake for 20 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 150-155 degrees F. Slice then top with the sauce before serving.
for the sauce
  1. Cut the top off the head of garlic so that almost all the cloves are exposed. Place the head of garlic in a little square of tinfoil and curve up the sides. Lightly drizzle the garlic with olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Seal up the tinfoil to make a little packet. Roast for 35 minutes then let cool. Once it's cool enough to handle, squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves.
  2. Blend the roasted garlic cloves and the rest of the ingredients in a small food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth.
Notes
Make sure you note the first step in the sauce recipe (roasting the garlic) before starting the pork.

Pork recipe from The Food Network.
Sauce recipe from For the Love of Cooking.

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love this recipe and am so excited to share it with you today! As I’ve mentioned before on Lemon & Mocha, Matt and I try to eat vegetarian a couple nights a week for both cost and health reasons. However, I love the idea of almost meatless. In these almost meatless sloppy joes the ground beef isn’t the focus of the dish, but it provides a great richness and heartiness.

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes  |  Lemon & Mocha

For those of you who read the title of this post and were instantly scared away by the mention of sloppy joes, don’t leave just yet! I think you know by now I only share recipes that are absolutely crave-worthy and these bad boys fit the bill.

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I actually had never tried sloppy joes until I made this version from Cooking Light, but I am so glad I waited instead of having some dreadful version that everyone seems to remember from their school cafeteria. I’m not sure why they have such a bad rap, but let these almost meatless sliders change your mind.

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Loaded spices and veggies these mini sandwiches have a complex taste that packs a punch. The mashed kidney beans mimic the heartiness of the ground beef and provide a smooth texture. I would happily eat these every night, and may have done just that for almost a week… 😉

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes
 
Yield: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces ground sirloin
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15.5 ounce can low sodium kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 6 mini brioche buns, or other sandwich rolls of your choosing
  • Sliced red onion, for serving
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stockpot. Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper and beef and cook until the onion is softened and the meat is browned. Stir occasionally, making sure to crumble the beef.
  2. Add the grated carrot, chili powder, sugar, oregano and red pepper then continue to cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium then cook for 10 more minutes.
  3. Take 1 cup of the kidney beans and mash them in a shallow bowl with a potato masher or fork. Add both the mashed beans and the remaining whole beans to the pot then cook until cooked through, about 1-3 minutes.
  4. Serve on the buns topped with sliced red onion.

Recipe from the May 2010 issue of Cooking Light.

Smoked Salmon Salad

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My brother and I are very different from one another, but there is definitely one thing we have in common: we both LOVE to eat. We also share a lot of favorite foods. I’m talking to you macaroni and cheese, sushi, and asparagus!

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another item high on the list is smoked salmon. Man, we can seriously chow down on smoked salmon. Toss us a platter with toast, hard boiled egg and some red onion and we are very, very happy campers. Or happy diners. I wouldn’t suggest bringing a smoked salmon platter camping, but that’s just me. When the two of us walk into a buffet we… oh you got the point already? Okay then, I promise all this raving about our cravings has a point.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

And it is this amazing smoked salmon salad. All the balanced flavors you love from a traditional smoked salmon platter with an added freshness. Refreshing leafy greens are piled with salty smoked salmon, fluffy hard boiled egg crumbles, crunchy mini pumpernickel croutons and red onion.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The whole salad is lightly drizzled with a lemon and shallot vinaigrette that brings an extra pop of acidity and brightness to the dish.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

So a special happy early birthday to my brother who inspired this outrageous dish! I hope you get to eat all your favorites on your birthday.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Smoked Salmon Salad
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • ⅔ cup ½ inch cubes of pumpernickel bread
  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • 6 ounces smoked salmon slices
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, crumbled with a fork
  • Thinly sliced red onion
for the dressing
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon capers, optional
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Very lightly toss the bread cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place evenly on a pan and cook until crisp, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place the greens on a medium serving bowl or platter. Layer the smoked salmon, hard boiled egg crumbles and sliced red onion on top. Drizzle the salad dressing on top then serve.
for the dressing
  1. Combine the shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, parsley and capers, if using, in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Mini Eggplant Pizzas

Mini Eggplant Pizzas  |  Lemon & Mocha

I can’t believe I waited so long to share this recipe. Matt and I love these eggplant pizzas so they get made quite often in our apartment. Aside from being out-of-this-world delicious, they are perfect for vegetarian nights, quick weeknights and carb-free nights.

Mini Eggplant Pizzas  |  Lemon & Mocha

Carb-free pizza, you ask? Well, it’s actually quite simple. Slices of melt-in-your-mouth roasted eggplant serve as both the base and the topping for these individual pizzas. The first time I came across this idea I was extremely skeptical. I am a pizza fiend and seriously doubted that anything could compare to chewy, crispy pizza dough. Well, my friends, I am here to let you know that I doubt no more!

Mini Eggplant Pizzas  |  Lemon & Mocha

These easy eggplant pizzas are so darn tasty that I don’t even miss the pizza crust for one second. Did I mention the ease of this meal? That is the second reason these bad boys are made so often in our place.

Mini Eggplant Pizzas  |  Lemon & Mocha

Thinly slice an eggplant. Drizzle with olive oil and season it up. I like to do a mix of salt, pepper, dried oregano and garlic powder to really take-home those Italian pizza flavors. Roast in the oven until tender, about ten minutes, then pull out of the oven. Top each roasted slice with tomato sauce and shredded cheese, usually mozzarella or whatever well-melting cheese you have on hand.

Mini Eggplant Pizzas  |  Lemon & Mocha

I recently used Gruyere and oh-my-heavens! I’ll just leave it at that. Anyways, through the topped eggplant slices back into the oven for another minute or two so the cheese melts and voila! Dinner is served.

Mini Eggplant Pizzas  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mini Eggplant Pizzas
 
Yield: 2-3 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 eggplant, thinly sliced (about ¼” thick)
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Salt, pepper, dried oregano & garlic powder for sprinkling
  • ½ cup tomato sauce, more or less depending on quantity of eggplant slices
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, more or less depending on quantity of eggplant slices
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Place the eggplant slices on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to very lightly coat. Spread the slices out so they are evenly spaced with none touching. Sprinkle the seasonings over the top.
  3. Roast until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes depending on the thickness of your slices.
  4. Carefully pull the pan out of the oven. Use a spoon to top each eggplant slice with tomato sauce then top each with shredded cheese. Return to the oven until the cheese melts, about 1-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.