Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

Five minutes into making this soup I knew I had a winner sitting on the stovetop in front of me. Intense smells swirled around me while the softening onions took on a rich color from all the spices. I don’t get cravings for soups unless they pack a lot of flavor and this sweet potato and apple soup hits the mark so I am extremely pleased to be posting it for as the second post in my fall apple series.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

This soup does take a shortcut by using applesauce instead of whole fresh apples, but you could easily turn your apple picking finds into an impromptu applesauce by peeling, coring then crushing them. And then making this soup of course.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

The original recipe uses curry powder, but since I didn’t have any on hand I substituted with what was in my cabinet. Feel free to use my version or substitute with curry powder according to the notes in the recipe. The soup has that delicious warming quality that all fall soups should have as well as an exciting complexity of taste.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

Finishing the soup with a splash of curry butter really deepens this complexity. You might think, “Oh, it’s just a garnish, I’m going to skip the curry butter,” but do not make this mistake my friends! Although it’s just a simple concoction of butter, spices and apple cider vinegar, it adds a final richness and tang to the soup.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

The apple chip pictured in the soup photos is the perfect crunchy texture addition and I’ll be sharing the recipe later this week in my third apple post.

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup  |  Lemon & Mocha

Spiced Sweet Potato & Apple Soup
Yield: 6 servings
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1¼ cups applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl then set aside.
  2. Place the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once warm add the onions and garlic then cook until the onions are soft, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add the ginger, additional nutmeg and 1¼ teaspoons of the spice mixture that was set aside in the first step. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes and vegetable broth then cover and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the applesauce then let simmer, covered, on medium-low for 20 minutes.
  5. When the potatoes are tender, puree the mixture until smooth with an immersion blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm while you prepare the spiced butter.
  6. In a small skillet over medium heat melt the butter then add the remaining ¼ teaspoon of the spice mixture. Stir over the heat until browned, just a couple minutes, then remove from the heat. Mix in the apple cider vinegar then drizzle over each serving of soup.
If you are using curry powder instead, substitute 1.5 teaspoons curry powder for the first 5 ingredients.

Recipe adapted from September 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine.

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

Normally when I see a recipe I am just drooling over it takes me months, even years, to finally get around to making it. Then when I finally make it months later I eventually get around to posting it on Lemon & Mocha. Not this time, my friends!

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

I saw this glorious Thai stuffed sweet potato one week, made it the next week then made it again to photograph the week after. Now here it is on Lemon & Mocha. Unbelievable!

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

The reasons I made it so fast are the same two reasons you should make it this week:  1. The minute I saw it my peanut sauce loving self was instantly obsessed with the idea and I knew I had to have it and, 2. Reading the recipe I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

A third reason was also that I’m always looking for healthy vegetarian meals since Matt and I try to go meatless a couple nights a week. The flavor of the creamy sweet potato with the tender broccoli, crisp scallions and sweet edamame smothered in this peanut sauce is divine. It was so divine in fact that I ate it three nights in a row!

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

So get adventurous with your dinner this week and make this Thai stuffed sweet potato.

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato  |  Lemon & Mocha

Thai Stuffed Sweet Potato
Yield: 4-6 servings
for the sweet potatoes
  • 4-6 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets and steamed
  • 1 cup cooked edamame beans
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • Salt and pepper
for the peanut sauce
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½” piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
for the sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce the potatoes 4-6 times with a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the potato.
  2. Let the potatoes cool slightly before handling then cut a slit in the top of each one. Stuff with the broccoli and edamame then drizzle generously with the peanut sauce. Garnish with the chopped scallions and peanuts. Serve hot.
for the peanut sauce
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. If you would prefer a thicker consistency add more peanut butter then remix. If you would prefer a thinner consistency add more coconut milk then remix.

Recipe from Shared Appetite.

Hobo Egg Grilled Cheese

Naturally I ponder about my favorite foods multiple times throughout the day so it is no surprise that I also fantasize about ways to make them even better. To make the ultimate version of all your favorite foods, now that is the dream.

When I stumbled upon this ingenious idea to elevate my family’s beloved hobo egg I almost couldn’t breathe from the excitement. A. Hobo. Egg. Grilled. Cheese? Must. Make. One. Now.

And of course my list of recipes to try is so long I didn’t get to it until many months later, years even, but I’m so happy I finally did. Combining the best of breakfast and lunch this is a spot-on lazy Sunday brunch meal.

Cheese and eggs have been a classic combination since the stone age when a caveman accidentally knocked a bowl of cheese curds onto his sizzling dinosaur egg omelette, or so I imagine, so before even taking a bite you know this sandwich is about to blow your mind.

And it does, again and again with every bite until you find yourself standing over the stovetop already making a second one. I hope you enjoy as much as I did, and don’t forget the bacon!

Hobo Egg Grilled Cheese
Yield: 1 serving
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 slices bread
  • 2 slices cheese, preferably cheddar, American, or any cheese that melts well
  • 1-2 slices cooked bacon
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Meanwhile prepare your grilled cheese by covering one of the slices of bread with the cheese and bacon then sandwiching the other slice of bread on top. When placing the bacon on the sandwich try to keep it around the corners of the bread so it doesn’t get cut out when you later cut out the circle from the middle.
  2. When the butter is melted and the pan is hot carefully place the grilled cheese in the skillet. Place a pan lid or tent a piece of foil over-top the sandwich in the skillet to help the cheese melt.
  3. When the cheese has started to melt and the bread is very lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes, carefully flip the grilled cheese. Cook until the other side of the bread is very lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan.
  4. Using the rim of a glass or a 2” cookie cutter cut a circle out of the center of the grilled cheese. Enjoy as a pre-meal appetizer. Press down on the sandwich to flatten it slightly.
  5. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium heat and return the sandwich to the pan. Carefully crack an egg in the hole of the sandwich. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes then carefully flip over. Cook until the egg is no longer jiggling, but still feels soft to the touch, about 3-4 minutes. You want to make sure the whites are cooked through, but the yolk is still runny. Remove from the pan, cut in half and serve dipping the sandwich halves into the runny yolk.


Pumpkin Risotto with Roast Asparagus

As excited as I am for the light and fresh ingredients of spring, I will definitely miss the cozy meals and rich flavors of winter. I decided to create a dish that would be a farewell to winter, as well as a welcoming hello to spring, if it ever decides to show itself up here in New England.

This pumpkin risotto with roast asparagus is creamy, robust and bright. The pumpkin flavor makes an appearance without overpowering the dish and the crisp asparagus complements the texture of the risotto. Now I’m about to get all product placement on you, but you’re used to my obsessive ravings by now. It is duly noted and acknowledged that I have an outrageous infatuation with food that has blessed me the ability to spout for hours about the topic. It is not limited to ingredients and meals, but also extends to restaurants, cooking methods, food science and news, appliances, food trucks, tableware and the occasional Costco sample discussion.

One of my absolute favorite appliances, courtesy of my stepmom, is my Breville Risotto Plus. What is this contraption you ask? Well the real question is, what isn’t it? Well actually it’s not a lot of things because an appliance can only be so many things out of the realm of all things, so lets stick to the original question.

This beauty is a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute-er and a risotto maker. You can cook brown rice while your broccoli is steaming. You can saute onions and garlic for a slow cooker meal without getting a second pan dirty. You can make risotto without constantly adding liquid and stirring. I’ll let that soak in for a second.

So Risotto Plus or no Risotto Plus, you should make this creamy risotto today and experience the flavors of winter and spring coming together.

Pumpkin Risotto with Roast Asparagus
Yield: 6 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1¾ cups Aborio (risotto rice)
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 3 cups hot vegetable stock
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  1. reheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat melt the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until hot. Add the shallots and crushed garlic. Cook until the shallots have softened, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Stir in the white wine, cover and let simmer until the wine has mostly been absorbed, about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Stir in 1 cup of the hot vegetable stock and let simmer until the liquid is mostly absorbed, stirring frequently. Repeat with the second and third cups of hot vegetable stock. When the third cup has been mostly, but not completely absorbed by the rice, stir in the pumpkin puree. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. While the risotto is cooking, roast the asparagus. Remove the thick ends of the asparagus, cutting or snapping the bottom inch or two off each spear. Lay the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with the other tablespoon of olive, then season with salt, pepper, and the Italian seasoning. Roast until the asparagus are tender, yet still firm, about 10 minutes. Cut each spear into thirds or fourths, depending on the length, for serving.
  6. To serve, top each bowl of risotto with some cut asparagus spears and freshly grated Parmesan.
*If you are using the Breville Risotto Plus, follow these simple changes. Instead of sautéing the shallots and garlics in a large pot, sauté them in the Risotto Plus on the sauté setting. Then, don’t complete step 4. Instead, after the wine has been absorbed, stir in the vegetable stock, which does not have to be hot, and the pumpkin puree. Cover with the lid and turn the risotto setting on. When it switches to warm, about 20-30 minutes later, stir in the Parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste, then continue onto step 5.
*Use whatever white wine you have on hand for the recipe. I usually recommend to not use your best white wine, but still one that you wouldn’t mind drinking a glass of.

Recipe adapted from the manual for the Breville Risotto Plus.

Ratatouille Napoleon

I received several fantastic cookbooks around the holidays and I have been so over-the-top excited about each of them that I can’t believe I have waited this long to share them with you. I have spent the last couple months cooking away and trying different recipes from each of the cookbooks. But one of the ones I was most thrilled about diving into, The Southern Vegetarian, was one that began as a gift to someone else. I purchased this book for Christmas for my fellow foodie friend and once it arrived I determined that I needed my own copy right away.

Thankfully my parents got it for me for Christmas so I could start drooling over all the pages without dirtying someone else’s copy. This book proves, if you didn’t believe it already, that eating vegetarian can be exciting, surprising and absolutely drool-worthy delicious. Matt and I previously ate vegetarian about once a week, although it was mostly for cost-saving purposes.

After the holidays were over, a scale had been purchased and we both had picked our jaws up from the floor (ok, it wasn’t that bad, but still a minor reality check moment), we decided to increase our vegetarianism for health concerns as well. Reduce your grocery bill and slim down? No, I’m not talking about starvation, I’m talking about eating (partly) vegetarian!

This ratatouille napoleon is an easy and delicious multifaceted meal that will undoubtedly impress your family and friends. The layering of the crunchy phyllo dough, hearty sautéed vegetables, savory olive tapenade, refreshing ricotta and slightly sweet balsamic reduction will perform a cohesive symphony of flavors on your taste buds. So veggie lovers and meat snarfers alike: make this dish, eat it, repeat, but don’t forget to share.

Ratatouille Napoleon
Yield: 6 stacks
for the napoleon
  • 2 cups peeled and diced eggplant
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 5 ounces crimini mushrooms, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • ¼ cup olive tapenade, plus 2 tablespoons
  • ¼ cup reduced fat ricotta cheese, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and pepper
for the balsamic reduction
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet then spread the eggplant, peppers, onions and mushrooms in an even layer. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat then lightly season with salt and pepper. Bake for 16 minutes then remove from the oven.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Carefully lay a sheet of phyllo on a clean work surface. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Top with another sheet of phyllo. Repeat the process until all 8 phyllo sheets have been laid on top of one another. Using a pizza cutter, cut the phyllo stack into 12 equal squares.
  5. Place half the squares on the baking sheet. Use a medium ice cream scoop to place ¼ cup of the vegetable mixture on half of the phyllo squares. Bake the squares for 18 minutes or until they are golden brown.
  6. Repeat with the remainder of the squares.
  7. Spread olive tapenade on each of the un-topped squares.
  8. To serve, scoop a spoonful of the ricotta onto a plate then layer a tapenade square followed by ratatouille square. Follow with a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.
for the balsamic reduction
  1. Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it has been reduced to a couple tablespoons.

Recipe adapted from The Southern Vegetarian.