Aunt Elaine’s Dirt Cake

Aunt Elaine's Dirt Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

My Aunt Elaine’s birthday is tomorrow and I wanted to post a special recipe to celebrate. When I was younger I would visit my Dad’s older sister during the summer. Aunt Elaine was a teacher making summer the perfect time to get some girl time in. Although I certainly loved visiting or having her visit during the school year as well so I could help grade papers!

Aunt Elaine's Dirt Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have so many food memories with my Aunt Elaine. First of all, she was the person who brought me to my first ever Chik-Fil-A! Thank you for that, Aunt Elaine! It was years before I could have Chik-Fil-A anywhere other than visiting my aunt in Maryland. She also bought me my first ever Dippin’ Dots when we were at a Science Museum. And yes, Dippin’ Dots still exists, and yes, I’m still obsessed with them.

Aunt Elaine's Dirt Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

I also have so many dishes she makes that I associate with visits to her house or family beach weeks, including her breakfast casserole, coffee cake, potatoes gratin and her famous Heath Bar ice cream cake. However, the one dish that I will always, always think about when I think about my Aunt Elaine is this Dirt Cake.

Aunt Elaine's Dirt Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

The first time my aunt made it for me she served it in a big flowerpot complete with a mini spade and fake flowers in the center. I thought it was the coolest dessert I had ever seen and I still get a kick out of it being served like that. I don’t have all those fun tools so I layered mine in a trifle bowl instead, but go all out if you want the full Dirt Cake experience.

Aunt Elaine's Dirt Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m sure most, if not all, of you have had something similar to this. It is vanilla pudding that has been made even better by being mixed in with a cheesecake-like mixture and whipped cream. The creamy pudding layer is layered with Oreo cookie crumbs and gummy worms to live up to its Dirt name. When you scoop some of it into a bowl and mix the Oreo cookie crumbs into the vanilla cream layer you will definitely find yourself going back for seconds!

Aunt Elaine's Dirt Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

Aunt Elaine's Dirt Cake
 
Yield: 10-12 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 family pack size of Oreos (1 pound 3.1 ounces)
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 3.4 ounce small packs of instant vanilla pudding
  • 3½ cups milk
  • 12 ounces Cool Whip, thawed
  • Gummy worms
Directions
  1. Process the cookies in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Alternatively you could smash them in a freezer bag with the meat mallet or rolling pin, but they won’t be as fine.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer beat the butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar until fluffy and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the pudding mixes and milk. Continue to whisk for several minutes until the mixture has thickened. Add the pudding mixture to the cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the Cool Whip.
  4. Make a layer of cookie crumbs in the bottom of your trifle bowl or flower pot. Make a layer of the pudding mixture on top. Continue alternating the layers, making sure you end on a cookie crumb layer. If you want gummy worms throughout your dirt cake make sure you are adding them as you go. If you just want the gummy worms on top, I added mine on the last pudding layer and then sprinkled the last “dirt” cookie layer around them to make it look like they were coming out of the dirt. Cover and refrigerate if not serving right away. Decorate with fake flowers and mini “garden spade” as desired.
Notes
I used reduced fat cream cheese, fat free milk and reduced fat Cool Whip. You can use whatever you have on hand or prefer.

Over the years I have seen many versions of my aunt’s cake online. Some people say you can leave out the butter without a big taste difference. I haven’t tried that so I can’t personally suggest it, but if you try it without the butter let me know how it turns out.

 

S’mores Muffins

S'mores Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

We have made it halfway through the Food Network Magazine’s Muffin of the Month recipes and we are being rewarded with these outrageous, gooey and chocolately S’mores Muffins. Yes! When I first saw all the Muffin of the Month recipes the s’mores one caught my eye. Because s’mores are amazing. Obviously. And so is chocolate. Duh. I looked at them and thought, “I can’t wait for June!”

S'mores Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

In addition to thoughts of me stuffing my face with s’mores muffins, the other part of my brain was seriously confused as to how the Food Network could let something called a S’mores Muffin into their magazine without toasted marshmallow. I would understand if the marshmallow was a middle layer or inside the muffin, but a layer of marshmallow right on top sitting completely un-toasted? Unacceptable!

S'mores Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’re confused because I’m going on and on about un-toasted marshmallow while the photos on your screen clearly have crispy gooey marshmallow I will let you know that I rectified this horrific oversight. I know I said I wasn’t going to change these Food Network muffin recipes so I could properly review them (other than my food allergy last month), but I couldn’t not toast this marshmallow. Too much was on the line- I’ve been thinking about these muffins since January!

S'mores Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

These S’mores Muffins did not disappoint. In fact, they exceeded my expectations of deliciousness. I love how they swapped some of the flour for graham cracker crumbs to give the muffin base a hint of that spiced cookie taste. I did use semisweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate chips because that’s what I keep in our house, but I’m kicking myself because they would have tasted even more authentically s’mores if I had stuck with the milk chocolate.

S'mores Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

The melted chocolate and roasted marshmallow fluff probably pull these into the dessert category, but I’m going to stick with they are called muffins so I’m allowed to eat them for breakfast. No judgement allowed, just a quiet breakfast table except for the occasional “mmmm” because everyone is busy indulging in these crave-worthy S’mores Muffins.

S'mores Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

S'mores Muffins
 
Yield: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs, from about 15 full-size crackers
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup marshmallow cream, or 1 tablespoon per muffin
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the chocolate chips with 2 teaspoons of the flour and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, milk, vanilla and eggs until smooth. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the chocolate chip mixture and stir.
  4. Divide the muffin batter among the lined cups. They should fill the liners ¾ full. Lightly tap the bottom of the pan on a hard surface so the top of the batter smooths out slightly. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops are lightly browned. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan then remove to a wire cooling rack. Once completely cool, top each muffin with a tablespoon of the marshmallow cream. To toast your marshmallow cream, use a kitchen torch or place them under a broiler for 5-10 minutes, making sure to watch them carefully.

 Recipe from January/February 2018 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!

Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I am so excited to share this healthy meal prep lunch with you! It is also great as dinner, but Matt and I love having these Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes for make-ahead lunches. Since I usually cook dinner the last thing I want to do is make lunch a big production. Quick and easy are key lunch qualities. I also don’t like having the same salad or sandwich for weeks on end and bonus points if the meal is hot! Something about a hot meal at lunch makes me look forward to it so much more. Anyone else? It’s okay, I’m probably the only weird one.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although you can certainly use store-bought barbecue sauce to make this even easier, I am obsessed with the quick and tasty barbecue sauce I came up with for these stuffed sweet potatoes. I am always looking for ways to make lunch healthier so I figured a homemade barbecue sauce would be a great way to control the sugar, sodium and preservatives going into this dish.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

To make the homemade barbecue sauce, everything is brought to a boil then simmered for fifteen minutes. That’s it! The sweetness comes from molasses and maple syrup so there is no refined sugar involved. Wanting to eliminate refined sugar and reduce sodium is also why I made the bulk of the sauce with tomato paste and water instead of ketchup. Don’t worry, between the added Worcestershire and other seasonings I promise you would never know it isn’t store-bought barbecue sauce. In fact it’s so easy and delicious you will definitely find yourself seeking out recipes that use barbecue sauce just so you can eat some more.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

The sweet and tangy barbecue sauce gets tossed in with the shredded chicken before being stuffed into tender roasted sweet potatoes. A little sprinkling of mozzarella cheese and some chopped red onion and you have arrived at lunch perfection. These Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are very filling and keep me stuffed until dinnertime, pun definitely intended. I cannot wait for you to try this recipe, especially the healthy homemade barbecue sauce!

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

On a side note, I love these new meal prep containers I got on Amazon. They are really secure – Matt commutes to work on public transportation and brings his lunch to work in his bag so they get tossed around and have never spilled. They are a great size for lunches or make-ahead dinners and they are dishwasher safe, which is key in my house. They also are freezer-safe and you can’t see this because I didn’t post a picture of the lid, but they have a little microwave vent at the top. Also, they look awesome for my photos! You can buy them here.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
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
for the chicken & sweet potatoes
  • 4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried well
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 4 tablespoons shredded cheddar or mozzarella
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • Chopped parsley for garnish, optional
Directions
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.
for the chicken & sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a small baking pan with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Pierce the sweet potatoes 5-6 times each with a fork. Lightly rub the sweet potatoes with oil (I use olive oil and a paper towel) then bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before carefully cutting a slit in the top of the potatoes.
  3. Toss the shredded chicken in the small saucepan with the barbecue sauce to coat. Divide the sauced chicken between the four potatoes and stuff in the center. Top each potato with 1 tablespoon of the shredded cheese and some of the red onion and parsley, if using. I cook these for make-ahead meals so the cheese gets melted when I microwave them, but if you are making and eating right away you could toss them under the broiler for a minute or 2 to melt the mozzarella.
Notes
I leave my shredded chicken pretty chunky instead of shredding super fine. It’s less time consuming and I like having larger chunks of chicken so it doesn’t taste like all sauce.

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!

Best Green Drink

Green Drink  |  Lemon & Mocha

I hope everyone has been enjoying their long weekend so far! I wanted to pop on here real quick to share a delicious and healthy drink to help counteract all the hotdogs and s’mores that were most likely consumed over the last couple days! This green drink is very easy because all the ingredients get thrown into a blender. If you’ve never had a green drink before, don’t be scared! They don’t taste like spinach… well this one doesn’t anyways. Instead, it tastes like pineapple. Yum!

Green Drink  |  Lemon & Mocha

My Aunt Dottie got me hooked on green drinks and Vitamix a couple summers ago. She whipped one up and had me try it; I couldn’t believe it actually tasted so good. Looking at it now I shouldn’t have been surprised because it is loaded with yummy fruit. This is a variation of one of my Aunt’s drinks and although Matt and I have tried many combinations this one remains our favorite.

Green Drink  |  Lemon & Mocha

I waited until there was a good deal on QVC before I splurged on our Vitamix and I’m so happy I did. It pulverizes drinks, sauces and soups in seconds and it gets so much use in our kitchen. Ninja also makes a great high-speed blender and my friend makes green drinks in hers without any issues. It is very reasonably priced and definitely a more affordable, although still high quality, option – shop here. Okay, back to this drink!

Green Drink  |  Lemon & Mocha

This green drink tastes very refreshing and I love how it makes me feel in the morning. I feel light and energized from all the vitamins I just consumed. One reason I like blender drinks over drinks made in a juicer is that all the fibers from the vegetables, which is where most of the nutrients are, get blended into the juice instead of being strained out. This recipe makes enough for two green drinks so Matt and I will split it in the morning.

Green Drink  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you want this ready for busy mornings, I usually prep half of it the night before. I wash the grapes and celery before putting them in the blender container with the spinach. The blender container gets covered and placed in the fridge. Then I set a banana and 1/2 cup measuring cup on the counter along with my to-go cup and straw so I’m not rushing around looking for things in the morning. Since there’s so much fruit in these drinks I usually try not eat too much more fruit during the day. Also, if you wanted to make it even healthier you could try adding Greek yogurt, protein powder or almonds for some added protein, although I prefer it without anything else added. Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoy Memorial Day!

Green Drink  |  Lemon & Mocha

Best Green Drink
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup green grapes
  • 1 stalk celery, snapped into thirds
  • 3 cups packed spinach
  • 1 banana, broken into a couple pieces
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple
  • 4 ice cubes
Directions
  1. Put everything in a high-speed blender in the order listed. Blend on high until smooth and no spinach flecks remain, about 1 minute. Pour into 2 glasses and serve.
Notes
If you want to prep this the night before, put the grapes, celery, and spinach in your blender then put the covered blender in the fridge. The next morning, add the water, banana, frozen pineapple and ice cubes.

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!

Red, White & Blue Lemonade Slushie Cocktails

Red, White & Blue Lemonade Slushie Cocktails  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Friday! It’s the Friday before a long weekend, which means we really have to celebrate. I wanted to post a festive drink for Memorial Day weekend, but when I was searching Pinterest for ideas most of them involved some sort of layering. A glass filled up part-way with a red drink layer, followed by a white layer then a blue layer. Definitely festive, but way more complicated than I wanted. It’s a holiday weekend! You don’t want to be stuck inside making multiple components for a cocktail!

Red, White & Blue Lemonade Slushie Cocktails  |  Lemon & Mocha

So I decided to stick with one color. The blue can be livened up with some red berries on top and it looks so refreshing. Oh, and it’s delicious. To get the blue color I used blue curacao. If you’ve never used blue curacao liquor before all you need to know is that it’s VERY blue and tastes like orange. Even though this drink is just blue and red (if you include the berry garnish) I still decided to call them Red, White and Blue Cocktails because they are perfect for both Memorial Day and 4th of July.

Red, White & Blue Lemonade Slushie Cocktails  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m a big fan of vodka lemonade drinks so I thought it would pair well with the citrus of the blue curacao. Throw it all in your blender with some ice cubes and you have a slushie vodka lemonade cocktail perfect for sitting out by the pool or playing lawn games in your backyard.

Red, White & Blue Lemonade Slushie Cocktails  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now this is definitely a simple drink so feel free to jazz it up by using flavored lemonade or throwing frozen berries (make sure they’re blue!) into the blender.

Red, White & Blue Lemonade Slushie Cocktails  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you want to make these without alcohol you could try using a blue sports drink, like Gatorade, instead of the vodka and blue curacao. This weekend I’ll be relaxing with friends and family – and having this festive vodka lemonade on repeat. What are you doing this Memorial Day Weekend?

Red, White & Blue Lemonade Slushie Cocktails  |  Lemon & Mocha

4th of July Lemonade Slushie Cocktails
 
Yield: 1 drink
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce blue curacao
  • 5 ounces lemonade
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 9 ice cubes
  • Blackberries and raspberries, for garnish
Directions
  1. Put the vodka, blue curacao, lemonade and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Garnish with the blackberries and raspberries.
Notes
To make these without alcohol, substitute the vodka and blue curacao for a blue sports drink, like Gatorade.