Recipes

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

Two years ago, Matt and I went to California for our one year wedding anniversary. Our first stop was Los Angeles to visit Hollywood, tour movie studios, and, most importantly, eat all the food. On our last night in LA, we went to this Italian restaurant near our hotel called Jon & Vinny’s. Thankfully I had called ahead because when we got to the restaurant there was huge line, but they sat us right at the counter where we could watch all the chefs make the homemade pastas and pizzas. Watching the food be made had us drooling and we ate our way through fresh burrata, incredible pastas and a warm baked bread pudding. We also had our only celebrity sighting of the trip eating dinner there – Gillian Jacobs!

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

The next morning we both woke up thinking about Jon & Vinny’s. We couldn’t stop thinking about firstly, how delicious it was, and secondly, how much we regretted not ordering a pizza since they looked so good the night before. I finally went to their website and saw that not only were they open for brunch (on a weekday – that’s LA for you), but they also had pizza on their brunch menu! Matt and I headed straight to Jon & Vinny’s and gorged ourselves on bomboloni (Italian filled doughnuts), Nutella and olive oil toast and of course, homemade pizza. Ever since our back-to-back meals, Matt and I joke about heading to LA for the weekend just to eat at Jon & Vinny’s and we probably will do it one of these days.

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

In the meantime, I was so excited to discover the recipe for their fusilli alla vodka with basil and Parmesan on Bon Appetit’s website! I decided I wanted to be able to enjoy the meal at home more regularly instead of just once in a while as a treat so I made a few changes to turn the dish into a skinny version. This Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan has all the flavors of the classic dish complete with plenty of cheese on top, but I’ve made a few swaps.

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

The biggest is that cauliflower puree is being substituted for the heavy cream. As I learned with the sun-dried tomato sauce from the Chicken Schnitzel and Pesto Spaetzle dish, cauliflower puree is a creamy, flavorful and incredibly healthy substitute for heavy cream.

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

I also reduced the amount of pasta and replaced it with some chicken and spinach. The end result is so delicious that I think Matt and I could eat it for every meal… at least until we get back to LA to eat our weight in the authentic version!

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets, about 7-8 medium-large florets
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons vodka
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces fusilli
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce fresh grated Parmesan, about ¼ cup, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray
Directions
  1. Make the cauliflower puree. Bring the chicken broth, vegetable broth or water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets, cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower and liquid to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray then heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F, turning and stirring the chicken in the pan as needed. Remove from the pan and carefully wipe the pan.
  3. Heat the olive oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and cook until the paste starts to caramelize, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vodka and stir constantly until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the pureed cauliflower, spinach leaves and the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let the spinach wilt. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave everything in the pan.
  4. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta liquid.
  5. Place the skillet back over medium low heat and add the pasta, ½ cup of the pasta liquid, 1 tablespoon butter and the cooked chicken. Cook and stir until the butter has melted and it has formed a thick sauce. If it is too thick, add some more pasta water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide between 4 bowls and top with the basil and more Parmesan.
Notes
The vodka sauce can be made 5 days in advance. Cover and store in the fridge.
Use any type of pasta you prefer. We used pasta with added protein.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Remember how last week I was writing about how excited I was to finally share some family favorite healthy recipes this month? These Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes are definitely one of those recipes!

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I first made these burgers this past summer after being inspired by a Food52 article about half-veggie half-meat burgers. I like to occasionally reduce the amount of meat at meals for environmental and cost reasons so I made burger patties using ground turkey, sautéed mushrooms, brown rice and quinoa before topping them with goat cheese, sautéed shiitakes and balsamic glaze.

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

We were so obsessed with these burgers after one bite that I posted my dark dinner photo of them on my Instagram feed, missing bun and all since I had forgotten them at the store! I think I can fairly say that these are the most moist burgers I’ve ever made, thanks to the mushrooms and grains, which usually is not something said about turkey burgers. They are also one of the most flavor-packed burgers and you could definitely skip the bun if you wanted to since they taste great either way.

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Part of what makes the flavor so good is that I use a Seeds of Change brown rice and quinoa with garlic packet. This isn’t sponsored, but as I mentioned in my Sheet Pan Chicken Fajita Bowls post, the brown rice and quinoa is fluffy and tastes awesome. Mix that together with the ground turkey, some sautéed cremini mushrooms, shallot and garlic and you have a winning burger.

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I make these I like to make a few extras and freeze the uncooked patties for future dinners. I always defrost them before grilling, but you might be able to cook them straight from frozen. I will be sure to try it out next time I freeze some of the patties. I hope you all enjoy these for (almost) Meatless Monday!

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 10 ounces whole cremini mushrooms, stems removed and finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 ounces ground turkey
  • 1 cup Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 5 ounces sliced shiitakes
  • 4 burger buns, optional
  • Goat cheese, for topping
  • Balsamic glaze, for topping
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped cremini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 4 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic, continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat, put in a medium mixing bowl and let cool.
  2. Place a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper on a dinner sized plate. Once the mushroom mixture has cooled slightly, add the ground turkey, quinoa and brown rice and dijon mustard. Use your hands to combine the mixture, but do not over-mix. Form the mixture into 4 patties and place each patty on the prepared dinner plate. Put the patties in the fridge to firm up for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Heat your grill or grill pan, being sure to lightly grease the grill pan. Once hot, cook the patties for 7-8 minutes per side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  4. While the burgers are cooking, sauté the shiitake mushrooms. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and sauté the mushrooms for 6-8 minutes.
  5. When the burgers are done, place on the buns, if using, then top with the sautéed shiitakes, goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for my referral if you purchase something. This does not affect the retail cost of the item. Thank you for supporting Lemon & Mocha!

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s our second healthy breakfast Friday! Last Friday’s breakfast was all sweet, but today we’re all about the sweet and savory combo breakfast. Do you have a preference of sweet breakfasts or savory breakfasts? I can never decide since I love them both so I love doing these combos, especially with toast. I’m not sure if you’ve seen them on Instagram over the last year, but there’s a new toast in town: sweet potato toast!

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Slice a sweet potato into 1/3-inch thick slices before baking them until cooked and crispy. Then you’re ready to top them with whatever you want! One of the reasons these toasts are so great is that you can make a bunch of them ahead of time and then when you’re ready to eat them for breakfast you just reheat the sweet potato toasts in your toaster oven or toaster like regular toast. Genius!

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I already knew I liked sweet potatoes for breakfast, but I love having them as toasts because it’s way more fun and there’s so much room for toppings. The savory sweet potato toast is topped with some spinach, a soft boiled egg and Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning. The yolk in the soft boiled egg is the perfect jammy texture and the seasoning adds just the right amount of salt and flavor.

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I had never made soft boiled eggs before starting to make them for sweet potato toasts and now I’m hooked! If you’ve never made them before they’re actually very easy and similar to hard boiled eggs. You bring a pot of water to a boil then add the eggs in their shell for six and a half minutes. Carefully place them into an ice water bath for two minutes then peel and eat. Even better, you can make them up to three days ahead of time and just reheat them before eating; more details are in the notes section of the recipe.

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Okay, on to the sweet toast! Have you ever had almond butter or peanut butter with sweet potato? If not, you are seriously missing out! Spread on some nut butter then top with strawberries, or your berry of choice. Yum! You can eat these toasts with a fork, but mine were crispy enough to pick them up, toppings and all, and eat them like a regular piece of toast. Enjoy and happy Friday, everyone!

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts
 
Yield: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 egg
  • Everything but the bagel seasoning, for topping
  • ⅓ cup spinach or greens
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 3 strawberries, stems removed and cut in half
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Cut off the ends of the sweet potato so that you can stand it up steadily. Carefully cut the sweet potato into ⅓-inch thick slices, which should get you roughly 6 “toasts.” Place on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
  3. To make the soft boiled egg, bring a small saucepan with enough water to cover an egg to a boil. Once boiling, add the egg in its shell and cook for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. While the egg is boiling, fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water. When the time is up on the egg, carefully remove it from the saucepan and place in the ice water for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes, remove from the ice water, dry, gently peel and carefully cut in half. Sprinkle everything but the bagel seasoning over top.
  4. When the toasts are out of the oven, place 4 of them on a plate. Save the other 2 for later (or eat all 6 now if you’re extra hungry!). Top 2 of them with the spinach and then place 1 half of the soft boiled egg on each spinach toast. For the other 2, divide the peanut butter between them and spread on top. Top with the halved strawberries.
Notes
Sweet potato toasts can be made ahead and then reheated in the toaster or toaster oven.
Soft boiled eggs will keep unpeeled in the fridge for 3 days. When ready to eat, reheat in boiling water for 1 minute then peel or peel then microwave for 15-20 seconds.

 

Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls

Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Every week for the last couple months I’ve been saying to Matt, “Listen to all the awesome recipes I have coming up in January!” and then I make him listen to me read them all for the bajillionth time because I’m just so excited about them. Yes, the last couple months because I’m a planner so I’ve had these in the works for quite some time. All the recipes I’m posting this month are indicative of how Matt and I eat when we’re at home. Sure, we have the occasional pasta night or indulgent meal, but recipes like the Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon and Broccoli and today’s Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls are how we eat 90% of the time we’re home.

Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Even though I keep talking about healthy meals and posting healthy recipes in January, we don’t really look at them as health food. To us they’re just really delicious meals we love that happen to be good for us, too. My excitement stems from finally sharing all these recipes that have been made over and over in our kitchen last year; whether we make them once a month or whether I just came up with it and made it four times in a row because we got hooked. These Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls fall into the latter category.

Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

I had this idea to combine two of our favorite new meals from last year: the Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes and the Southwest Turkey Baked Egg Rolls. Shredded cooked chicken gets tossed in barbecue sauce (I recommend my homemade refined sugar free recipe, which I’ve posted in the recipe below) and some chopped steamed spinach before being rolled up in the egg roll wrappers with some sharp cheddar cheese. They only take 16 minutes to bake and the outside gets really crispy, while the cheese inside gets gooey. I’m literally drooling as I’m typing this – sorry folks!

Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Matt loves barbecue sauce so he proclaimed that he likes these even more than the Southwest Turkey Baked Egg Rolls. I don’t think I could choose because it depends on what I’m in the mood for, but these definitely win in their simplicity of the filling. Another reason we’ve had these egg rolls so much recently is because they freeze so well. We’re big fans of freezing meals so we have something quick instead of succumbing to takeout and I freeze these after they’ve been baked and cooled. To reheat, I just put them on the toast setting of our Breville Smart Oven or you could bake them at 375 degrees F for ten minutes.

Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love having ranch dressing with barbecue sauce so I was excited to see so many healthier ranch dressings made with Greek yogurt at the grocery store! I got one from Hidden Valley Ranch and it’s so good with these egg rolls, but with way less calories and fat. I hope you all try these soon!

Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Baked Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls
 
Yield: 7 servings (3 rolls per serving)
Ingredients
for the egg rolls
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1¼ cups barbecue sauce
  • ½ cup steamed and strained spinach
  • 3 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 21 egg roll wrappers, see note
  • 1¼ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Greek yogurt ranch dressing, for dipping
for the barbecue sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste, about 6 ounces
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons molasses
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions
for the egg rolls
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or coat with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken, barbecue sauce, spinach and red onion until fully coated.
  3. Before filling the egg roll wrappers, make sure you have a little bowl or cup of warm water and a clean work surface. Place the egg roll wrapper down so that a corner is facing you. Scoop 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture and place it near the bottom corner of the wrapper. I like to adjust the mixture so it’s more of a log shape then a big mound. Place a tablespoon of the shredded cheese on top. Take the bottom corner of the wrapper and fold it up and over the mixture so it’s completely covering it then continue to roll it one more time. Fold in the left and right corners so they create a little envelope then continue to roll it until it’s 1 roll away from the top corner. Wet your finger with the water and use it to moisten the whole exposed top corner. Fold the corner down to close up and seal the roll. Place it on the baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining rolls then coat all the rolls with cooking spray.
  4. Bake the rolls for 8 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 8 minutes. They should be crispy and golden brown. Serve warm with the ranch dressing.
for the barbecue sauce
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
Notes
I use Nasoya egg rolls wrappers. In Whole Foods I find them in the refrigerated section near the hummus and guacamole. In Wegmans I find them in the refrigerated section near the tofu and blocks of cheese.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for my referral if you purchase something. This does not affect the retail cost of the item. Thank you for supporting Lemon & Mocha!

Italian Kale Salad

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. Matt and I spent the weekend visiting family and we had a food-packed day in Philadelphia on Saturday. If you saw my stories on Instagram then you will know just how much food we consumed! Whenever I have a few days of heavy eating I immediately start craving a salad. The key is that the salad needs to be satisfying enough that you can eat it as your meal and not feel like you need to dive into a bag of chips after.

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

This Italian Kale Salad is loaded with all kinds of delicious toppings and the dressing packs the perfect balsamic punch. Along with the kale and radicchio, there’s chickpeas, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, red onion and Parmesan.

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I first came up with this salad in December to post for the healthy January we’re doing here and we loved it so much that I served it at Christmas dinner as well. I’ve also made it almost every week since first making it because we just can’t get enough. I actually just ate some for lunch with a soft boiled egg on top for some protein!

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love kale salads because you can dress them ahead of time and the greens never taste wilted; in fact they often taste even better after sitting for a bit. The key with kale salads, which I talked about previously in my Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans post, is that you need to tear and scrunch the leaves for about five minutes to break the greens down and get rid of their natural bitterness. My Dad and Diane have always said they don’t like the taste of kale, but I am happy to report that they were both fans of this salad at Christmas.

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

You could serve this Italian Kale Salad along with dinner or have it as a main dish with some grilled chicken or shrimp on top. I hope you all love this one as much as we do and I cannot wait to share Wednesday’s recipe with you all!

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Italian Kale Salad
 
Yield: 4 servings as a main dish
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 8 ounces kale, thick stems removed
  • 1 cup chopped radicchio
  • ¾ cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup canned artichoke hearts, quartered (about 2 artichoke hearts)
  • ⅓ cup chopped roasted red pepper
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • Fresh grated or shaved Parmesan, for topping
for the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Make sure all thick ribs and stems are removed from the kale. If the kale isn’t already chopped, roughly chop then place in a large bowl. Tear and massage the kale for about 5 minutes. To massage the kale scrunch it up with both your hands, release, and scrunch up some more, tossing and tearing as you go. This helps tenderize the kale and reduce its bitterness by breaking down the cellulose structure.
  2. Add the radicchio, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper and onion. Toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss to completely coat. Top with the Parmesan. If you aren’t serving right away, cover and refrigerate until serving. Toss again before serving.
for the dressing
  1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard and Italian seasoning until combined. Season with salt to taste.
Notes
To roast the red pepper: Spray a baking sheet or aluminum foil covered baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Wash and dry the red pepper then place on the baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flip the pepper over then bake for 20 more minutes. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, stem and seeds. You need roughly 1 whole red pepper for this recipe.