Pan Seared Salmon over Blood Orange Quinoa

Pan Seared Salmon over Blood Orange Quinoa

You guys. I am so proud of this dish and I’m excited to finally be sharing it with you! I recently switched over to a recipe notebook, as opposed to my previous millions of scattered scraps of paper, and if you could see all my notes on this one you would know how I’ve been diligently working on perfecting it for the last couple months.

Pan Seared Salmon over Blood Orange Quinoa

The original inspiration for this Pan Seared Salmon over Blood Orange Quinoa was to create a healthy salmon dinner that would incorporate a lot of seasonal produce. Kale and citrus fruits are at their peak, while carrots and shallots are still in season during the early winter in cooler climates. I also wanted to make an all-in-one meal, which is my term for a recipe that includes the protein, grain and veggies without having to come up with different sides. It does not, however, mean a one pot meal since you have to use a couple different pans, but that’s okay because the meal still comes together quickly enough for a weeknight dinner.

Pan Seared Salmon over Blood Orange Quinoa

What you’re looking at is crispy salmon that has been pan seared to perfection and laid on top a flavor-packed bed of blood orange quinoa. You’re incorporating the blood oranges three ways to really help the flavor come through; we’re using the zest, its juice and the actual blood orange segments. This helps give the whole dish a bright acidity.

Pan Seared Salmon over Blood Orange Quinoa

The garlic, shallot and carrots get lightly caramelized before the kale gets tossed in along with some water to help it steam. The kale gets perfectly wilted and tosses really well with the quinoa – no tough greens in this dish! The recipe makes two servings, but you can easily double it if you are cooking for more people.

Pan Seared Salmon over Blood Orange Quinoa

I love seasonal cooking, not only because that means you get the best prices at the grocery store, but the produce with the best flavor and nutrients is going to be what is in season at the moment. One idea I had was to post a seasonal guide at the beginning of each month and then share a few recipes that used the seasonal ingredients as some inspiration. Is that something you would be interested in? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Pan Seared Salmon over Blood Orange Quinoa

Pan Seared Salmon over Blood Orange Quinoa
Yield: 2 servings
  • ⅓ cup quinoa
  • 3½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 4 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2 filets of salmon, skin-on or skinless
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Bring the quinoa and ⅔ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Fluff and set aside.
  2. Cut each carrot into three pieces then halve each piece lengthwise. Segment one of the blood oranges by cutting off the peel and pith then cutting segments out from the membrane of the orange. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan (skillet with a lid preferred) over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and shallot. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the kale and ¼ cup of water. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for 2 more minutes, or until the water has finished evaporating. Add the zest and juice from 1 of the oranges, about ¼ cup of juice. Add the blood orange segments and quinoa; stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.
  4. Make sure the salmon has been patted dry. Generously season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of a skillet large enough to fit both salmon filets, about 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil in the pan is hot (you can tell when the oil is shimmering), carefully place the salmon filets in the pan bottom side down. The bottom side is the skin side or the side where the skin was - the less “pretty” side. Once the salmon is in the pan do not move it until it’s time to flip the salmon so it gets nice and crispy. Sear for 2-3 minutes, carefully flip then sear for another 2-3 minutes. You want to take the salmon off the pan when it reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F for medium-rare, or 130 degrees F for medium. Plate the quinoa and kale then top with the salmon filet.


Apple Nachos

Apple Nachos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy 2019! I’m kicking off the new year, and Lemon and Mocha’s month of healthy recipes, with a quick and easy snack. Everyone defines healthy differently, but when I’m trying to eat well I try to minimize processed food as much as possible. This is one of the biggest challenges for me, especially when it comes to snacks. However, when I have fun snacks like these Apple Nachos, especially if there’s some chocolate involved, it makes everything so much easier.

Apple Nachos  |  Lemon & Mocha

I had seen variations of apple nachos on Instagram and Pinterest, but I never got around to making myself some. I don’t know what took me so long since I love dipping my apples in peanut butter.

Apple Nachos  |  Lemon & Mocha

I wasn’t sure how everything was going to stay on the little apples slices, but from the first wedge I was completely hooked! The peanut butter drizzle helped the chopped almonds and mini chocolate chips stick to the apple wedges and I cut them really thin so I would have even more “nachos” on my plate.

Apple Nachos  |  Lemon & Mocha

You all know by now how I feel when it comes to food variations and these apple nachos are the perfect vessel to get creative with your toppings. You can use any nut or seed butter you like – I have a little almond butter drizzled on there as well – and then the rest of the choices are up to you! Some other topping ideas are Greek yogurt, any type of nut, shredded coconut, granola, berries, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds… I could go on forever! When I first made these, my initial plan was to save half for Matt, but once I started eating them there was no way they were surviving until Matt got home.

Apple Nachos  |  Lemon & Mocha

I hope this recipe helps inspire your snack time! I have a dinner recipe I’m sharing tomorrow that has already been on repeat in our house so stay tuned.

Apple Nachos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Apple Nachos
Yield: 1 serving
  • 1 large apple, cored and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter or preferred nut/seed butter
  • 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon chopped almonds
  1. Lay the apple slices down on a plate. Drizzle the peanut butter over top. If your nut or seed butter is too thick to drizzle, warm it for 20-30 seconds in the microwave. Top with the mini chocolate chips and chopped almonds.


A Look Back on 2018


New Year’s Day is right around the corner, which means we are saying goodbye to 2018. It was an epic year here on Lemon & Mocha. I shared 124 new recipes with you all! I want to thank all you readers, whether you are family, friend, fellow blog buddy, food enthusiast, or just stopping by. All your comments and love within this little community space make all the hard work worth it! A special call-out to my Dad who makes my day and still emails me after every post! I especially want to give a shout-out to my husband, Matt, who continues to be the most supportive and enthusiastic cheerleader of Lemon & Mocha. Looking ahead to 2019, I have so many exciting recipes I cannot wait to share with you all. I’m posting all healthy recipes for the entire month of January to help kick off a great start to the new year – and to help Matt and I detox from our December cookie diet! Below, I’m sharing the top ten most visited recipes that were newly posted in 2018. After that I’ll share my top ten posts from 2018, with a superlative twist.

10. Crispy Baked Apple Pie Bites with a Chai Vanilla Dipping Sauce

Crispy Baked Apple Pie Bites with a Chai Vanilla Dipping Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

9. Irish Cheddar, Bacon and Potato Muffins

Irish Cheddar, Bacon & Potato Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

8. Zucchini Noodles and Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce

Zucchini Noodles & Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

7. Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread  |  Lemon & Mocha

6. Lemon Blackberry Icebox Cake

Lemon Blackberry Icebox Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

5. Elote Hot Dogs

Elote Hot Dogs  |  Lemon & Mocha

4. Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce

Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

3. Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

2. Aunt Elaine’s Dirt Cake

Aunt Elaine's Dirt Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

1. Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have to say, the internet picked some pretty delicious recipes! Since I posted so many recipes in 2018 it is impossible for me to pick my favorites. So instead, I created superlative categories and I’m sharing my top ten below.

Recipe I’m most excited that I finally shared: Nutella Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nutella Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Best Photos: Beet Donuts with a Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Glaze

Beet Donuts with a Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Glaze  |  Lemon & Mocha

What I want for dinner every night: Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos

Thai Peanut Chicken Tacos  |  Lemon & Mocha

What I’m most likely to make next week: Baked Turkey Pesto Meatballs over Lemon Cauliflower Rice

Baked Pesto Turkey Meatballs over Lemon Cauliflower Rice  |  Lemon & Mocha

Most creative recipe: Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits  |  Lemon & Mocha

Recipe guaranteed to get eaten instantly at a party: Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

Cutest recipe: Beach Crab Cupcakes

Beach Crab Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Favorite Healthy Bite: Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Tahini Dressing

Fall Spinach and Arugula Salad with Tahini Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

Dish I wish I didn’t have to share with Matt: Chicken Schnitzel and Pesto Spaetzle with a Cauliflower Sun-dried Tomato Sauce

Chicken Schnitzel & Pesto Spaetzle with a Cauliflower Sun-dried Tomato Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

What I want for breakfast tomorrow: Raspberry Peach Turnovers with a Fresh Raspberry Glaze

Raspberry Peach Turnovers with a Fresh Raspberry Glaze  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy New Year, everyone!

Muffin of the Month Round-up

Muffin of the Month Round-up  |  Lemon & Mocha

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! The year is winding down and just last week I shared the final muffin recipe for the Muffin of the Month. For those of you who are just tuning in, Food Network Magazine posted a Muffin of the Month article in their January 2018 issue that had a different muffin recipe for each month of the year. They all looked so good that I decided to make them each month, take photos and write up my thoughts along with the recipe. I did veer off course for the November and December Food Network muffins and instead made alternate recipes since the Food Network ones didn’t appeal to me. It was a fun project and something I looked forward to baking (and gifting extras to friends!) each month. I thought since I diligently posted the muffin recipe each month that it deserved a send-off through this quick Muffin of the Month round-up.

Pomegranate Orange Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

January: Pomegranate Orange Muffins

The year kicked off with a bright citrus muffin packed with clementine flavor. I might have to make these again this January with some raspberries instead of the pomegranates!

Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

February: Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Muffins

Oh, I was in love with these muffins! I am chocolate obsessed so I was in heaven. The flakes of salt on top were the perfect touch.

 Irish Cheddar, Bacon & Potato Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

March: Irish Cheddar, Bacon and Potato Muffins

Who knew savory muffins were so amazing? These cheesy muffins were a favorite for both Matt and I.

Carrot-Coconut Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

April: Carrot-Coconut Muffins

Although these muffins looked adorable, they were a little disappointing. I wanted more carrot flavor and definitely more coconut flavor. Does anyone else have it ingrained in their head after watching Holiday Baking Championship and Christmas Cookie Challenge that if you promise a flavor it really has to deliver?

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

May: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

I had to adapt this one a bit since it called for an oat topping and I’m allergic to oats, but I could not have been more excited about the final result. These are moist and have this outrageous brown sugar topping. I’m definitely making these muffins again next rhubarb season!

S'mores Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

June: S’mores Muffins

More chocolate involved and this time marshmallow fluff, too, so I was already swooning. Add in the graham flavored moist muffin base and ding, ding! This one was a definite favorite.

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

July: Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Muffins

The crispy sugar topping on these muffins was a home run and the zucchini helped keep them very moist. However, they fell into a bit of the April muffin dilemma, which is that they needed more lemon flavor!

Blueberry Nectarine Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

August: Blueberry Nectarine Muffins

My family was literally calling dibs on these juicy and sweet muffins. If that won’t make you try them then I don’t know what else to say! I can’t wait to make these again with some in-season nectarines.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

September: Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

A literal peanut butter and jelly sandwich turned into a muffin. Crazy! Yet, so delicious, especially if you’re like me and love a classic pb&j.

Apple Pumpkin Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

October: Apple Pumpkin Muffins

This is where they started to let me down a little. The cooked apples on top were delicious, but there was no pumpkin to be found anywhere! Especially since I love my go-to pumpkin bread recipe, it was difficult for me to get excited about these.

Double Chocolate Pecan Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

November: Double Chocolate Pecan Muffins

Since I wasn’t feeling the November Food Network recipe, I decided to adapt the February muffins since I loved the chocolate base and stuff them with spiced pecans. The chocolate in these is so good.

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

December: Healthy Gingerbread Muffins

I went out on a limb with these muffins and did some “healthy” baking. They were good – for a healthy muffin.

If I had to pick my top three, I would probably have to go with the March Irish Cheddar, Bacon and Potato Muffins, the May Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Muffins and the August Blueberry Nectarine Muffins. But those three might change depending on the day because the February Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Muffins, the June S’mores Muffins and the September Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins aren’t far behind! Food Network has posted a ‘something’ of the month in each January issue for the last couple years. The year before muffins it was cupcakes and the year before that it was birthday layer cakes. I hope they do it again and I can’t wait to find out what it will be! My guess is cookies! Maybe that is just wishful thinking because I love making, and eating, cookies. What do you think it might be?

Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all having a fun-filled weekend so far! I wanted to pop in this Sunday with a quick recipe before all my family Christmas festivities got started. I saved this recipe for the last minute because it’s so easy, but I wanted to make sure I shared it because these Candied Pecans are seriously addictive.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

If they look familiar it’s because I first made them to go on top of my Pumpkin Pecan Ice Cream Pie I shared before Thanksgiving. When I made them for the ice cream pie I was so excited by how tasty they were that I decided the pecans deserved their own post here on Lemon and Mocha.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Most recipes I’ve seen online for candied pecans use butter, but this recipe actually uses a single egg white instead. The egg white and vanilla extract are beaten until frothy before tossing with the pecans, which then get coated with brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves. The pecans get the best crispy and sugary spiced coating on the outside without any greasiness of butter. If you’re like me and have been baking like crazy all holiday season then you probably have all these ingredients in your pantry right now to whip up a batch.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I just made a batch for putting on top of my browned butter pecan cheesecake for Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house and I may have sneaked one or two (or ten) for myself. They are perfect for sprinkling on cakes, cheesecakes, trifles or ice cream, but they also taste crazy delicious just by themselves. Especially warm out of the oven – drooling over here! Simply put them in a bowl for snacking alongside dessert or use as part of a sweet and salty cheese and snack board.

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends and I’ll be back here with a fun post on Wednesday!

Candied Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Candied Pecans
Yield: A little more than 2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces pecan halves
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg white and vanilla until frothy. Add the pecan halves then toss to completely coat. Spoon the coated pecans into the bowl with the sugars, trying to leave any excess egg white behind. Place on the prepared baking sheet and spread out the pecans. Bake for 1 hour, tossing the pecans on the pan every 15 minutes. I use a spatula to separate the pecans from the parchment paper then spread them back out in an even layer before putting back in the oven.