Chicken and Strawberry Quesadillas

Chicken and Strawberry Quesadillas  |  Lemon & Mocha

It finally has been feeling like summer and it’s still strawberry season – life is good! Strawberries peak in May and June so when I was planning my calendar for the year I had come up with a bunch of recipes utilizing strawberries in June.

Chicken and Strawberry Quesadillas  |  Lemon & Mocha

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits, although I have a lot of favorite fruits, and I love using them in both sweet and savory dishes. It is hard to beat a peak fresh strawberry bursting with sweetness!

Chicken and Strawberry Quesadillas  |  Lemon & Mocha

The inspiration for this recipe came from last year’s Mini Strawberry Balsamic Pizzas with Chicken and Sweet Onions. I was am still so obsessed with the flavor combination that I decided they needed a reappearance this summer, this time in quesadilla form. The first component of these Chicken and Strawberry Quesadillas is the simple no-cook strawberry spread made with fresh strawberries. There is balsamic vinegar in the strawberry spread that helps balance the sweetness.

Chicken and Strawberry Quesadillas  |  Lemon & Mocha

Next, the quesadillas have chicken and fresh basil. Finally, they are loaded up with melted, gooey mozzarella cheese and goat cheese. You can do all mozzarella cheese if you prefer, but I love the extra flavor the little pockets of goat cheese bring to the quesadillas and goat cheese and strawberries are a classic pairing.

Chicken and Strawberry Quesadillas  |  Lemon & Mocha

I topped my quesadilla wedges with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, some fresh strawberry chunks and a little fresh basil for some added strawberry flavor and because it makes them look extra fancy. The additional strawberries on top make the quesadillas more sweet so if you like your meals more savory than I would skip them, but I am all about that sweet and savory combo!

Chicken and Strawberry Quesadillas  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have a ton of recipes on Lemon & Mocha that highlight fresh strawberries so I’m linking to a few of them below so you can get the most out of your strawberries this month. Enjoy!

Strawberry Peanut Butter Wraps  |  Lemon & MochaTriple Berry Waffles  |  Lemon & MochaRed, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & MochaBeet Donuts with a Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Glaze  |  Lemon & MochaStrawberry Rhubarb Crumble Muffins  |  Lemon & MochaChocolate Covered Strawberry Frozen Yogurt  |  Lemon & MochaStrawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & MochaTriple Berry Naked Angel Food Cake  |  Lemon & MochaStrawberry Dutch Baby  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chicken and Strawberry Quesadillas
 
Yield: 2 quesadillas
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup finely chopped strawberries (about 2 large strawberries), plus more for topping
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • ⅔ cup shredded mozzarella, divided
  • ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese, divided
  • ⅔ cup chopped cooked chicken (about ½ chicken breast)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus more for topping
  • Balsamic glaze, for topping
Directions
  1. Combine the strawberries, honey and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes then mash well with a fork or potato masher. Place the tortillas on a clean surface then divide the strawberry spread between them. Spread it around to coat the tortilla.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Once hot, put in the tortilla with the strawberry spread side up. Sprinkle ⅓ cup of the shredded mozzarella all over the strawberry spread followed by 2 tablespoons of the goat cheese. Once the cheese has melted, put ⅓ cup of the chopped chicken and 1 tablespoon of the basil on one half of the tortilla. Carefully fold over the tortilla to cover the half with the chicken and increase the heat to medium-high. Watch the quesadilla carefully as it browns quickly; once browned carefully flip to the other side and let the other side brown. Once done, remove from the pan to a clean cutting surface. Let the pan cool slightly then lightly wipe out with the paper towel, heat the remaining teaspoon of vegetable oil and repeat the steps for the second quesadilla.
  3. To serve, cut quesadillas then top with additional chopped strawberries, basil and balsamic glaze.

 

Lemonade Pinwheel Cookies

Lemonade Pinwheel Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have a confession that you may or may not have noticed. I skipped the May Food Network Magazine cookies. The May cookies are strawberry french macarons and at first I was intimidated, but excited. French macarons have been on my kitchen bucket list for years now. I bought all the ingredients to make them, read through the recipe (which was my ultimate mistake – always fully read through a recipe before committing to it!)… and just couldn’t get psyched up to make them.

Lemonade Pinwheel Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The Food Network Magazine recipe did a few things differently from other recipes I’ve read and I’ll be honest, sometimes the magazine recipes can be really hit or miss. When it came down to it, if I was finally going to make french macarons, something I’ve been excited about for years, but have never gotten around to, should I really be using a Food Network Magazine recipe with no reviews instead of my trusted cookbook or blogger sources? So, I put everything aside, ate a bunch of strawberries, and decided to move right along to the June cookies.

Lemonade Pinwheel Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

These Lemonade Pinwheel Cookies are definitely not to be skipped! They are chewy and bursting with lemon flavor. A couple weekends ago we had an awesome long family weekend with Matt’s parents and brother, Nick, in the Catskills. Nick is a lemon and lime fan so I brought some of these cookies along. They were a definite hit; my mother-in-law, Theresa, even ate some, which is a big deal since she is not usually a dessert person!

Lemonade Pinwheel Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The way you get the pinwheel effect is by laying two sheets of cookie dough on top of one another, rolling them up, then slicing and baking the cookies. The lighter dough is a sugar cookie dough with lemon extract. The yellow layer is that same lemon sugar cookie dough, but with lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon gelatin powder amping up the lemon flavor. There’s also a little yellow gel food coloring.

Lemonade Pinwheel Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you like lemon then I promise you will love these cookies! Make sure you read the recipe thoroughly well in advance because there’s two separate chilling steps so you most likely will want to give yourself at least two days to make them. Enjoy!

Lemonade Pinwheel Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Lemonade Pinwheel Cookies
 
Yield: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • ¼ cup lemon gelatin powder (from one 3-ounce box), divided
  • Lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon yellow gel food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons yellow sanding sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon coarse white sugar
Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until fluffy. Add the egg, beat, then add the vanilla and lemon extracts and beat, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the flour mixture on a reduced low speed until just combined.
  2. Place half the dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap, flattening the dough into a disk as you wrap it. To the remaining dough, add 2 tablespoons of the gelatin powder, the lemon zest, lemon juice and the gel food coloring. Beat until just combined then wrap that half of the dough in plastic wrap, also shaping into a disk. Refrigerate both disks of dough until firm for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Remove the plain colored dough from the fridge and roll it out into a 10-inch by 11-inch rectangle on a lightly floured. I found it easier to move the dough if I rolled it out on a floured piece of wax paper or plastic wrap. Put aside. Remove the yellow dough from the fridge and repeat the rolling process. Place the yellow dough rectangle on top of the plain colored dough rectangle. Trim the edges then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the yellow sanding sugar over top. Starting with the long end, tightly roll up the dough to form a log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap then refrigerate until firm for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of gelatin powder, 1 tablespoon yellow sanding sugar and the coarse white sugar. Remove the dough log from the fridge and roll it in the sugar mixture, pressing to help stick. Use a sharp knife to cut the log into ⅜-inch thick slices. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are set around the edges, switching the pans halfway though. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the pan then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Notes
Make sure your dough sheets are equal sizes and wrap the dough together tightly when you roll it. The ends of my dough log were all uneven and not very tightly wrapped so I got about 14 or so perfect looking cookies and the rest of my cookies were kind of odd shaped because they were closer to the ends of the dough log.

 Recipe from January/February 2019 issue of Food Network Magazine.

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Tropical Kale Salad

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s taken quite a few years, but I finally have the process down to ensure Matt and I eat healthy homemade dinners. Side note: just because I know what the process is that doesn’t always mean it gets put into action! The key for Matt and I is that by the time Matt gets home from work, dinner needs to be already made, already in progress or, if it hasn’t been started, then able to be ready in roughly twenty minutes or less. Otherwise we end up ordering takeout or making Annie’s mac and cheese or Trader Joe’s frozen pizza.

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have no idea exactly why this is the case, but years have proven to me that it is an absolute scientific fact. Part of it might be that we are both always hungry by the time Matt gets home (we eat early, usually around 5:30 – 6:00 PM) and part of it might be that being back together again signals that the relaxing and lazy part of our night can begin. One guaranteed way to make sure we get our vegetables in at dinnertime is to have a kale salad ready.

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I know some of you aren’t kale fans, but Matt and I love it, especially when I’ve taken the time to massage and soften the kale leaves. All the toppings and dressing are already mixed in so it’s as simple as dishing into some bowls and chowing down. I wanted to make a fresh version for summertime and came up with this Tropical Kale Salad. I’ve added shredded red cabbage, red bell pepper, scallions, avocado, mandarin oranges and strawberries then tossed it with a quick homemade sesame ginger soy dressing.

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you don’t love kale you could always swap it out for some fresh spinach or lettuce. I love salads with a bit of sweetness to them and the mandarin oranges and strawberries are just right to get those tropical summer vibes. The creaminess of the avocado is a necessary addition; if you are worried about your avocado getting brown you could always wait and add it right before eating.

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve never had someone get so excited about me saying I’ve made a kale salad than Matt, although after writing this I wonder how much to contribute to the taste and how much to contribute to the ease of immediately having something to eat after walking in the door! (I just asked Matt and he said he loves the salad, but that ready-to-go dinner is nice, too – haha!) Do you have any strategies you use for weeknight meals to avoid the takeout trap?

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tropical Kale Salad
 
Yield: 2 servings as a main dish or 4 servings as a side salad
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 10 ounces kale
  • ¾ cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • 2 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 3 large strawberries, hulled and chopped
for the dressing
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Directions
for the salad
  1. Remove all thick ribs and stems; roughly chop. Place in a large mixing bowl. Continue to tear and massage the kale for 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 cabbage, bell pepper and scallion. Pour the dressing over top then toss to combine. Add the avocado, oranges and strawberries then gently toss to combine. Top with more sesame seeds if desired.
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together all the ingredients until combined.

 

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s hard to know exactly when my pasta obsession began, but it’s at least as far back as I can remember. My brother and I used to have noodles with every dinner and we would even stuff it inside pita pockets sometimes. Yes, essentially a noodle sandwich. Yes, we were odd. I think most people tend to love pasta to some degree. I mean, how can you not? It’s simple, starchy and satisfying.

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Somewhere down the line I decided pasta was a cheat meal. Matt and I would go weeks without having pasta for dinner. Then this past year, especially while preparing for my healthy January posts, I started thinking a lot about what healthy food means to me and came to the conclusion that I needed to remove the pasta cheat meal mentality. Instead of nixing pasta completely I needed to rebalance my pasta meal. A plate piled high with just spaghetti, marinara and cheese could be replaced with a smaller portion of pasta loaded with veggies. But still cheese. There always has to be cheese.

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since then Matt and I have been enjoying weeknight pasta, happily and healthily – at least with what healthy means to me. I now have three favorite healthy pasta hacks, two of which I have shared on Lemon & Mocha before. One is all the different types of alternative pasta on the market. I personally tend not to enjoy whole wheat pasta, but I have gladly embraced rice pasta, red lentil pasta, green bean pasta and, my new favorite, Barilla Veggie Spaghetti. No, this is not sponsored, it just tastes really good and is made with 25% vegetable puree making it slightly better for you than regular spaghetti. That is what I used in this recipe, but you can use any type of spaghetti you prefer.

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

My second hack I want to share is adding cauliflower puree to make pasta sauces creamy. I used this tasty trick in the Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan recipe and it works just as well here to create a rich pesto cream sauce without any actual cream. My third healthy pasta tip that I also shared with my Winter Pesto Pasta recipe is swapping out some of the pasta for zucchini noodles.

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

In addition to all those yummy ingredients I’ve kept it simple with some spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and of course Parmesan. This healthy creamy pesto pasta comes together really quickly making it a great weeknight meal. Keep it vegetarian or eat with some meatballs or chicken sausage. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces spaghetti (I used Barilla Veggie Spaghetti)
  • 1 cup frozen cauliflower florets
  • ⅓ cup pesto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach
  • 2 zucchinis, noodled; about 2.5 cups
  • ⅔ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
  • Fresh chopped basil for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Boil water for the pasta in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and set your timer according to the package instructions (mine was for 9 minutes). When there are 6 minutes left on your timer, add the cauliflower florets. When the timer goes off, drain the pasta and cauliflower, being sure to reserve 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Carefully separate out the cauliflower florets. In a high-speed blender, puree the cooked cauliflower florets, reserved cooking liquid and the pesto until smooth. Alternatively you could puree the cauliflower then just stir it into the pesto if you like the texture of the pesto and don’t want it completely smooth.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost wilted then add the zucchini noodles and the sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds then remove from the heat.
  3. Add the pesto mixture, the spaghetti and the Parmesan to the sauté pan. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve topped with additional Parmesan and fresh chopped basil.

 

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Spring desserts are all about bright flavors and colors so I thought these Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes would be the perfect fit for these cute spring butterfly cupcake toppers gifted to me by my goddaughter. They are technically strawberry lemon cupcakes, but doesn’t strawberry lemonade sound much more fun?

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

The cupcake is a classic lemon recipe flavored with lemon zest and lemon juice. It’s a nice subtle lemon flavor that doesn’t overpower the strawberry frosting.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

If I was making these lemon cupcakes with a plain vanilla or cream cheese frosting I would add lemon extract to really amp up the lemon flavor since I love it so much, but the strawberry frosting is so good you really don’t want a lemon punch from the cupcakes to take away from it.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

The strawberry frosting is a buttercream frosting flavored with powdered freeze dried strawberries. I took a cue from my Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls; using freeze dried strawberries crushed up into a powder is the ultimate way to pack in real strawberry flavor without any of the moisture of fresh strawberries. I’ve seen freeze dried strawberries in many grocery stores and Trader Joe’s and Target definitely stock it.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve used this strawberry frosting on a chocolate cake before and it tasted just as bright and delicious paired with these lemon cupcakes. I hope you enjoy these cupcakes – they went fast in our house!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
 
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup milk
  • Zest and juice from 2 lemons
for the frosting
  • ½ ounce freeze dried strawberries
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
Directions
for the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners so you have enough for 12 cupcakes.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt until combined.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla then beat on medium-high until combined. Add the flour mixture while on low until only a few streaks remain. Add the milk, lemon zest and juice then whisk by hand until combined.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners with the batter until ⅔ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes. They are done when a toothpick comes out clean and the tops spring back when you lightly press on them. Remove cupcakes from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
for the frosting
  1. Turn the freeze-dried strawberries into a powder using a food processor or by carefully crushing into a powder in the bag with a rolling pin. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the strawberry powder and the powdered sugar, beat on low until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Frost the cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a 1M Wilton tip.

Lemon cupcake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.