Main Dishes

Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Today is Lemon & Mocha’s five year anniversary! Can you believe it? Five years ago today I published the first ever Lemon & Mocha blog post and here we are with another first – the first ever mac and cheese recipe on the site! Can you believe that? I can’t decide which thing shocks me more. I think, and anyone who knows me well will agree, that this being the first mac and cheese recipe is the most surprising part of today by far. I am OBSESSED with macaroni and cheese. I have been since I was a kid and I’m equally surprised I haven’t just turned into a big mac and cheese noodle so far. Although not for a lack of trying – check out my Halloween costume from last year!

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I was in middle school I would come home from school every day and eat an entire box of Kraft macaroni and cheese. I took my box mac and cheese very seriously, too. I remember one time being at my best friend’s house and telling her mom not to worry, that I would make the box of mac and cheese because I knew the secret way to make it taste best (more butter, less milk, is key!). Nowadays, I’m all about the Annie’s mac and cheese. But what I love most of all is a cheesy, gooey, flavor packed homemade macaroni and cheese.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

The flavor packed part is really important because a quality mac and cheese needs to be more than just noodles and melted cheese sauce. It has to have depths to its flavors so each bite takes you on a flavor roller coaster. Not a huge upside down one, but like a medium curvy one so just when you think you’ve settled in another flavor curve hits your palate. I usually use multiple types of cheeses and a little dijon mustard in all my homemade mac and cheeses as a start for that extra depth of flavor.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

This mushroom version is some next level mac and cheese though since it’s loaded with umami. If you aren’t familiar with the term, check out my Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms post! We’re sautéing both cremini and shiitake mushrooms in shallots and garlic before putting them in the dish so they’ve reached their peak deliciousness. We’re also using dried mushrooms, which get re-hydrated in some warm water before being sautéed. The reason we do this is so we create a rich mushroom liquid that we use right in the Mushroom Mac and Cheese. This lets rich mushroom flavor permeate every bite, even if you don’t get an actual piece of mushroom.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve made this mac and cheese in the past, but this most recent time Matt and I couldn’t get enough of it. The minute I took my last photo I grabbed a fork and started eating it right from the serving bowl – smelling it while photographing had been tortuous! We didn’t want to eat it all over the weekend because it’s, you know, not the healthiest, so I froze a container of it. Needless to say, that container promptly got defrosted the next night!

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

I can’t believe this is the first macaroni and cheese recipe I’m posting on Lemon & Mocha, but I promise it won’t be my last. Also, how many times did I just type mac and cheese? It must be my favorite word combination. Thank you all so much for continuing to follow this journey with me! As much as I pour my heart into my cooking, I equally pour my heart into my writing each week and connecting with everyone in this tiny online space brings me so much joy. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mushroom Mac and Cheese
 
Yield: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 pound dried medium shell pasta
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces whole cremini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1½ cups shredded fontina cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded sharp or smoked cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Submerge the dried mushrooms in the hot water. Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. When they are done, remove them from the water, squeeze them out, then chop and place with the other chopped mushrooms. Make sure to reserve the mushroom stock.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the box instructions. Drain.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the shallot and garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped cremini and shiitake mushrooms. Add the dried oregano and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms have stopped releasing liquid and are browned. Set aside.
  5. In a large dutch oven or stock pot, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly. The roux should be slightly darkened. Add the white wine, whisk to combine and let cook for 1 minute. Add the milk and whisk. Once the milk has warmed, add 2 cups shredded gruyere, 1 cup shredded fontina and 1 cup shredded cheddar, whisking after each addition. Once smooth, add 3 tablespoons of the mushroom stock (the water the dried mushrooms were in), the mustard and the cooked mushroom mixture. Stir to combine. Add the cooked pasta and stir to completely coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Pour the mac and cheese into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup shredded fontina cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

 

Maple Apple Grilled Cheese

Maple Apple Grilled Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Friday, friends! It seems only right to celebrate the upcoming weekend with something ooey, gooey and cheesy. Since it’s already October we can’t forget the fall flavors either! This grilled cheese is loaded with tart granny smith apple slices, a sweet and spicy maple mustard and some maple smoked cheddar. I only have one other grilled cheese recipe on Lemon & Mocha and while the Hobo Egg Grilled Cheese is an epic sandwich, it’s about time I shared some more cheesy goodness.

Maple Apple Grilled Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

This grilled cheese has been in motion ever since I bought some spicy maple mustard and some maple smoked cheddar cheese. Pemberton Farms is a local market and nursery Matt and I like to go to and mid-summer we went on a Saturday to buy a bunch of flowers and bushes. We never have an issue parking there, but there was a line to get in the parking lot. We circled the block before finally finding a street spot and headed in to see that they were having a customer appreciation day complete with dozens of local vendors giving away samples of food, beer, wine and spirits. There was even free barbecue in the parking lot and a live band in the outdoor nursery! Needless to say, it was a bad day to try and buy flowers, but a perfect day to eat some free food and chat with local vendors.

Maple Apple Grilled Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

I tried this maple smoked cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese that was creamy with a little sweetness from the maple and had a nice smoky flavor. I commented that the cheese would be really good on a grilled cheese with apples and the woman at the vendor booth said she loves making them with April’s Maple spicy maple mustard. I knew she was onto something so we bought both the cheese and the mustard. I’ve been waiting a while to make this grilled cheese since I wanted to make it in the fall and it was definitely worth the wait. Although I most likely won’t be waiting weeks to have it again!

Maple Apple Grilled Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since April’s Maple is really local I wrote in the recipe for you to make your own maple mustard with equal parts spicy mustard and pure maple syrup, but if you spot April’s Maple products near you I definitely recommend trying them out! If you can’t find the Grafton Village maple smoked cheddar (although I noticed online that Wegman’s seems to carry it, even in some non-local towns), you can substitute with any smoked cheddar, smoked gouda or a sharp cheddar.

Maple Apple Grilled Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Other than the outrageous fall flavors inside, the key to a perfect grilled cheese is how you cook the outside. My two biggest tips are 1) cook it low and slow so the cheese has plenty of time to melt and 2) spread mayonnaise on the outside of your bread. Yes, mayonnaise! I first learned this trick from Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, which is a Boston food truck. The mayo gets cooked off, but it creates a perfectly browned and crunchy outside to your grilled cheese. Every bit of that outside bread gets a very thin coat of the mayo making sure that the entire surface area of that bread will get browned in the pan. Definitely try this one!

Maple Apple Grilled Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Maple Apple Grilled Cheese
 
Yield: 1 grilled cheese
Ingredients
  • 1½ teaspoons Dijon or spicy mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 3 ounces maple smoked cheddar, sliced
  • 6 thin slices of granny smith apple, about ¼ of a large apple
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the mustard and maple syrup. Spread over the inside of one of the slices of sourdough bread.
  2. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat. Spread 1 teaspoon of the mayonnaise on the other side of the bread you spread the maple mustard on. Place the bread in the frying pan, mayonnaise side down. Next evenly place the slices of cheese on top of the mustard then evenly place the slices of apple. Spread the other teaspoon of mayonnaise on the outside of the second slice of bread and place that slice of bread, mayonnaise side up, on top of the sandwich stack. Cover the grilled cheese with a pot lid big enough to cover it.
  3. Cook until the cheese melts then carefully flip. This will depend on how thin you sliced your cheese, but mine cooked on medium-low for 7 minutes. Once you flip the grilled cheese leave it uncovered. Turn up the heat to medium-high and cook just until the bottom bread gets browned and crispy, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan, let cool for a minute or two, then cut and enjoy!
Notes
If you can’t find maple smoked cheddar, use smoked cheddar. If you can’t find smoked cheddar you can substitute with smoked gouda or sharp cheddar.

 

Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos

Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Did you know that tomorrow is National Taco Day? I have zero idea who decided Thursday, October 4th should be National Taco Day instead of a Tuesday, but maybe they just wanted people to celebrate tacos twice this week instead of stacking the celebrations. It also seems a little odd to have National Taco Day in October instead of some spring or summer date when tacos seem to be more on people’s menus, but I am definitely not complaining. Just curious. I’m especially not complaining because it prompted me to create these outrageous Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos! Spiced chicken thighs are layered inside warm tortillas along with some cabbage, cucumber and carrots before being drizzled with an Asian peanut sauce. The tacos are then topped with chopped peanuts and pickled red onions.

Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos  |  Lemon & Mocha

The initial inspiration for doing a Thai flavored taco smothered in peanut sauce came from my favorite burrito chain, Boloco. You might remember them from my New England Harvest Salad post, where I even mentioned their Bangkok Thai burrito. I knew if peanut sauce could work so well in a burrito that it would easily translate to tacos. Even though the easy microwave peanut sauce, similar to the sauce for the Sesame Peanut Noodles with Chicken, is delicious, the real star is the marinated chicken thighs. Lately I’ve been experimenting with spices I’m not as familiar with, such as turmeric and coriander, and Matt and I have surprised ourselves by being really into all the dishes I’ve tried so far. I also have been using chicken breasts for all my recipes for so long that I forgot how succulent and juicy chicken thighs can be.

Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos  |  Lemon & Mocha

The chicken only needs to marinate for one hour or it can be left overnight if you want it ready when you come home from work. The spiced chicken thighs get baked in the oven for about 18 minutes and after sampling a bite it was really hard to save all the chicken for the tacos and not dive right in. The seasonings along with the lime juice and zest have such a good balance of citrus, nuttiness and warmth, without being spicy. Unless you want it spicy and then you can certainly kick up the chili powder.

Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another element in this recipe that I totally took from Boloco is the pickled red onions. Pickled red onions are sweet, vinegary, crunchy and have a very subtle onion flavor. They’re also bright pink and really amp up most burrito or taco combinations. The recipe here is for quick pickled red onions so all you need to do is heat apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt before pouring over the thinly sliced red onions to let them sit for one hour. That’s it! It’s so simple I’m shocked I don’t pile pickled red onions on every dish I make.

Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos  |  Lemon & Mocha

All together this taco has a winning combination of savoriness, acidity and sweetness and I am declaring it definitely worthy of being enjoyed on National Taco Day – and all subsequent Taco Tuesdays!

Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos
 
Yield: 4 servings, 8 mini tacos
Ingredients
for the peanut sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1½ teaspoons sesame oil
for the pickled red onions
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
for the tacos
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon chili powder (depending on spice tolerance)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Zest from ½ lime
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 8 6-inch tortillas, warmed
  • ½ cup sliced red cabbage
  • ½ cup matchstick cut cucumber (see note)
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts
Directions
for the peanut sauce
  1. Combine the lime juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, water and sesame oil in a small bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds and stir until smooth.
for the pickled red onions
  1. Combine the water, apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves then remove from the heat.
  2. Place the sliced red onions in a bowl then pour the vinegar mixture over top. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
for the tacos
  1. In a container or bowl large enough to hold the marinating chicken, combine the minced garlic, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, turmeric, coriander, ginger, chili powder, salt, black pepper and lime zest. Add the chicken thighs and toss until they’re fully coated. Marinate the chicken for at least one hour (it is safe to marinate for as long as overnight if you would prefer).
  2. You can grill or bake the chicken. See the recipe note for grilling instructions. To bake the chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil then place the chicken in a single layer. Bake the chicken for 18-20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Let the chicken rest for a couple minutes then slice.
  3. Top each warmed tortilla with the sliced chicken, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, parsley and peanuts, dividing between the 8 tacos. Top each taco with some pickled red onions then drizzle each taco with the peanut sauce.
Notes
To cut the cucumber into matchsticks, first cut off the ends of your cucumber. Then, cut your cucumber in half or thirds if it’s really long so you have two (or three) pieces of cucumber. Then cut each piece into ¼” thick slabs. Stack the slabs and cut them into ¼” thick matchsticks.
To grill the chicken: Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. If you want to make sure you don’t overcook your chicken, you could grill them until they reach just over 160 degrees F and then allow for some carryover cooking. This is when the chicken continues to cook after it’s been removed from the grill. Temp it after a few minutes and make sure it has risen to 165 degrees F.

 

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon & Broccoli

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon & Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

Look at this salmon! It is so tender and sticky and sweet and I’m drooling all over my keyboard just writing about it.

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon & Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

Salmon lovers and salmon haters alike, rejoice! Even the pickiest fish eater will love this meal and I have proof. I’ve been trying to incorporate more fish into my diet over the last couple months. Now I love salmon and plenty of other fish, but Matt usually does not share my sentiments unless it’s sushi. He agreed to try salmon once a week for dinner with me so I set out gathering some recipes to try.

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon & Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

The first week I tried this honey mustard baked salmon and it was a big hit for both the salmon lover (me) and the salmon somewhat dis-liker (Matt). The next week when salmon night rolled around Matt requested the honey mustard salmon again instead of a few other recipes I had found. The next week it happened again and soon enough we were having this recipe every week. And let me tell you, I am not mad about this one bit and still can’t get enough of this dish! Every time I get another taste of it I start craving it all over again.

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon & Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

The salmon filet is baked in a foil semi-packet, which traps the steam and keeps the salmon incredibly moist and tender.

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon & Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

I turned the dish into a sheet pan supper by roasting the broccoli along with the salmon so I could make our side dish at the same time without any extra steps. Also, because this honey mustard sauce is so good I wanted to smother everything in it. The honey brings sweetness while the Dijon and apple cider vinegar help balance it out so it’s not overly sweet. I love the pop of crunch the whole mustard seeds give so definitely don’t skip those! I hope you all try this salmon soon and love it as much as we do!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon & Broccoli  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon & Broccoli
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1½ pound salmon filet, skinless and boneless
  • 2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with nonstick aluminum foil, with enough overhang on one short side that you will be able to fold it up and over the salmon (the salmon will be on one half of the baking sheet, the broccoli will be on the other). Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, garlic, apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
  3. Place the salmon filet on the half of the baking sheet with the overhang. Place the broccoli florets on the other. Spoon ½ of the honey mustard mixture over the broccoli florets and toss well so they are fully coated. I usually rub the tops of the florets into the sauce to make sure they get really well coated. Spoon the remaining half of the honey mustard sauce over the salmon filet and brush/spoon so the whole filet is coated, including the sides. Take the overhang of foil and fold it over the salmon like you are making a foil packet that just won’t be sealed on all sides.
  4. Bake in the oven for 22 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily. Be careful when you pull back the foil because there will be a lot of steam. My salmon filet was about an 1½ inches thick so adjust your time accordingly based on the thickness of your filet. I have found that wild salmon tends to cook much quicker than farm raised (I used farm raised), mostly because wild salmon tends to be thinner. Fold back the foil and broil the salmon and broccoli for 1-2 minutes. Make sure the sauce and broccoli doesn’t burn, but gets slightly browned. Serve as is or alongside some rice or quinoa.

Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven.

Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets with an Orange and Arugula Salad

Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets with an Orange and Arugula Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m back with another delicious family-friendly dinner recipe, courtesy of Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook cookbook. When I was flipping through the cookbook to get to the Pesto Presto Chicken recipe a few weeks ago I kept seeing all these recipes I made from the book when I first got it that were so good. I was suddenly craving all these dishes I hadn’t made in years because I always have a million new recipes on the agenda. I decided these Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets with an Orange and Arugula Salad needed to be pulled out of the archives immediately so here we are.

Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets with an Orange and Arugula Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m so excited I rediscovered this dish because I am always looking for new ways to cook chicken for dinner. This dish has a fresh twist on your classic baked chicken cutlets by including some orange zest in the breadcrumb mixture. The chicken cooks at a high temperature to get super crispy without any frying. One quick tip is to move the cooked chicken cutlets to a wire cooking rack as soon as they are done cooking in the oven so they stay extra crispy until you’re ready to eat them.

Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets with an Orange and Arugula Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since I tend to cook and photograph during the day when the light is best, Matt and I eat a lot of reheated food for dinner. I was so bummed Matt couldn’t try this dish right when I made it because it definitely lost its crispiness. He still loved it, but this isn’t a dinner you will want to make ahead of time. Which is fine since it’s so quick to make!

Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets with an Orange and Arugula Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love recipes that are an all-in-one deal so I don’t have to worry about additional side dishes. While the chicken is baking, you make a very simple salad of peppery arugula, juicy orange segments, fresh yellow tomatoes, red onion and a little extra virgin olive oil. Season with some salt and pepper and it’s the perfect fresh accompaniment to the crispy chicken. I especially love the sweetness the oranges bring to the chicken when you get a bite of the two of them together.

Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets with an Orange and Arugula Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I hope you all enjoy this quick and tasty dinner dish!

Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets with an Orange and Arugula Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets with an Orange and Arugula Salad
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided
  • 2 seedless naval oranges
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound
  • 2 yellow tomatoes
  • ½ small red onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups baby arugula leaves
  • Salt & pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Set up your breading station with 3 shallow bowls. Place the flour in the first bowl. In the second bowl, add the beaten egg. In the third bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, the Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley. Add zest from 1 of the oranges. Stir to combine.
  3. Split the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so that you have 4 chicken cutlets. Season both sides of the chicken cutlet with salt and pepper then coat the cutlet with the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Dip the flour-coated cutlet into the egg mixture, letting any excess drip off. Then place it in the panko mixture and make sure the cutlet gets completely coated, pressing panko on if necessary. Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat for the rest of the cutlets.
  4. Spray the breaded chicken cutlets with cooking spray then flip them over to spray the other side. Bake for 10 minutes then flip the cutlets over and bake for another 12 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. When the cutlets are done, place them on a wire cooling rack if you aren’t ready to serve them right away so they stay crispy.
  5. While the chicken is baking, make the orange and arugula salad. Peel the oranges, then section and dice them. Seed and dice the tomatoes. Finely chop the red onion. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the diced oranges, tomatoes, chopped red onion and the remaining ½ tablespoon chopped parsley with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When you’re ready to eat, add the arugula, toss and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray’s Look + Cook.
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