Recipes

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Maple Brown Sugar Buttercream

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Maple Brown Sugar Buttercream  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s time for the final seasonal cupcakes on Lemon & Mocha! Of course not the last seasonal cupcakes I’m ever going to post, just the final ones this year. For those of you who haven’t been following along, last year for my birthday my goddaughter gifted me with unique cupcake toppers from Etsy for each season. The cute toppers inspired plenty of delicious cupcakes all year long, including winter’s Hot Chocolate Cupcakes, the Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes in spring and summer’s Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream.

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Maple Brown Sugar Buttercream  |  Lemon & Mocha

There are so many warm and inviting fall flavors to choose from so I decided to go with two of my favorites: apple and maple. These are Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Maple Brown Sugar Buttercream – and they are crazy delicious. The cupcake is moist, loaded with shredded apple and filled with plenty of the warming spices you find in apple pie, such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Maple Brown Sugar Buttercream  |  Lemon & Mocha

The buttercream on top balances both the maple and brown sugar flavors while bringing the perfect amount of sweetness to the little apple spiced cupcakes. There’s also a hint of saltiness in the buttercream, which really works well with the sweet flavors.

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Maple Brown Sugar Buttercream  |  Lemon & Mocha

I chose to make mini cupcakes this time because I’ve been baking so many desserts that just a little mini cupcake (or two) was preferable to having a huge cupcake every time. They were super easy to frost with a piping bag, too, because each one just needs a little dollop of frosting.

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Maple Brown Sugar Buttercream  |  Lemon & Mocha

I was worried about making a cupcake filled with fruit because sometimes it can add too much moisture to the batter, as seen from a few failed experiments I had this summer. I’m excited to report that the combination of straining and squeezing the shredded apple dry to get as much liquid out as possible worked perfectly to allow for a moist apple-filled cupcake, while still having that light and springy texture an ideal cupcake should have. I hope you all love these cute fall mini cupcakes as much as we do!

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Maple Brown Sugar Buttercream  |  Lemon & Mocha

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Maple Brown Sugar Buttercream
 
Yield: 48 mini cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup buttermilk (see note)
  • 3 cups peeled, shredded and strained gala apples, about 3-4 medium apples
for the frosting
  • 2¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
for the cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 24 cup mini muffin pan with mini cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high for 2 minutes, scrapping down the sides as needed. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add the buttermilk and beat on low until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low until a few streaks remain. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the shredded apple, making sure you’ve strained the water out and squeezed the apple shreds dry with a paper towel or cheesecloth.
  4. Use half the batter to fill the 24 prepared mini cupcake liners. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool for a couple minutes in the pan then carefully move the mini cupcakes to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Add 24 more cupcake liners to the pan and repeat with the rest of the batter.
for the frosting
  1. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the confectioners’ sugar, brown sugar, butter and salt, first on low then on medium until fluffy. Add the maple syrup and vanilla then beat on medium-high until combined. Frost the cooled cupcakes. If piping on the frosting, use a Wilton 1M tip to pipe small star swirls onto each mini cupcake.
Notes
To make your own buttermilk: pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk, any fat percentage, into the measuring cup until you have ¾ of a cup. Let sit 5 minutes before using.

Cupcake recipe adapted from Chowhound.
Frosting recipe adapted from Country Living.

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.

Lemon Herb Risotto with Salmon and Crispy Panko

Lemon Herb Risotto with Salmon and Crispy Panko  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tomorrow is my birthday! Woo hoo! I love my birthday, but I’ve been so busy planning for our little guy’s arrival that I haven’t given it much thought this year. I did, however, decide to make a special birthday meal. And by that I mean I made it in August since I’ve been trying to get the blog ahead in anticipation of taking a few months off, but it had the spirit of my birthday just the same.

Lemon Herb Risotto with Salmon and Crispy Panko  |  Lemon & Mocha

I thought I would combine two of my favorite dishes: salmon and risotto. I’ve had risotto with plenty of proteins on top, but never salmon. Now after having them together I don’t know why every restaurant doesn’t have a salmon risotto dish on their menu because it was so crazy delicious.

Lemon Herb Risotto with Salmon and Crispy Panko  |  Lemon & Mocha

The lemon herb risotto is rich and creamy, while still tasting light because of the lemon and fresh parsley and chives. The risotto is a little cheesy, without being too cheese forward, which is perfect when paired with the tender salmon.

Lemon Herb Risotto with Salmon and Crispy Panko  |  Lemon & Mocha

I baked the salmon very simply with some olive oil, salt and pepper and added some crispy panko breadcrumbs over top for extra texture. I could eat this combination every day of the week! It hit all the right flavor and texture notes and I gobbled up every last bite. Plus, it got two thumbs up from Matt, who I consider my in-house salmon skeptic. If he honestly enjoys it then I know it must be good!

Lemon Herb Risotto with Salmon and Crispy Panko  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’ve never made risotto before then now is the time! It’s the perfect cozy fall dish and is definitely not as intimidating as it seems. Enjoy, everyone!

Lemon Herb Risotto with Salmon and Crispy Panko  |  Lemon & Mocha

Lemon Herb Risotto with Salmon and Crispy Panko
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
for the risotto
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced and rinsed
  • ¾ cup arborio rice
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • ⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
for the salmon
  • 2 4-ounce salmon filets (preferably skin off, but if not just remove after baking)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
for the panko
  • 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon olive oil
Directions
for the risotto
  1. Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan then keep warm over low heat.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek then season with salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the rice, season with salt. Cook for 1 minute, while stirring, until the rice is coated. Add the wine and cook while stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  4. Add ½ cup of the warm chicken broth. Cook until absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue this process in ½ cup increments of the chicken broth until you’ve used it all up. This takes about 18 minutes. Remove the risotto from the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley and chives. Season with salt to taste.
for the salmon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or spray with cooking spray. Place the salmon filets on the baking sheet then drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked and it easily flakes when you touch it with a fork. Serve over the risotto with the panko sprinkled on top.
for the panko
  1. Add the panko to a small sauté pan over medium heat. Drizzle with the olive oil. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the panko is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

 Risotto recipe from March 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!