Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

How fun is this Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter? As I’ve mentioned in past posts, Babu and I used to make a classic flag sheet cake every Fourth of July. Now my new tradition seems to be coming up with a tasty new alternative every year instead! I really enjoyed putting together last year’s Flag Fruit and Dessert Platter and I wanted to do something similar this year.

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

Just like mini appetizer food, dessert boards encourage informal snacking and eating, which is especially welcome during lazy summer barbecue parties. When it’s hot out and all the yummy fruits are in season during the summertime I find myself craving fruity desserts. Even better if they’re light and refreshing. This red, white and blue platter essentially turns an already simple dessert into a top your own angel food cake bar.

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

The white stripes consist of chunks of fluffy angel food cake. Buy it at the store, bake it from scratch or use a box mix; totally up to you! I went basic with the red stripes and just layered juicy strawberries. Strawberries, raspberries and pitted fresh cherries are all great choices that would pair well with the angel food cake.

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

For the blue section of the flag I have a quick sauce made with blueberries. It was my first time making this easy four-ingredient sauce from Barefoot Contessa and it will definitely not be my last. Striking the perfect balance of sweet and tart, the blueberry sauce tastes so good drizzled all over the angel food cake and fresh berries.

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

Finally, in a bowl nearby since it doesn’t really fit into the flag is some homemade whipped cream because you can’t have summer cake and berries without whipped cream! If you’re going for all simple this holiday then just break out some Cool Whip. I promise no one will complain. However, if you do take the extra few minutes to make the fresh whipped cream then I also promise you will have some extra rave reviews of your top your own angel food cake bar. Enjoy and have a great holiday!

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter  |  Lemon & Mocha

Red, White and Blue Angel Food Cake Platter
 
Yield: 1 platter; 2 cups blueberry sauce
Ingredients
for the platter
  • 1 angel food cake, cut into cubes
  • 24 ounces strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
for the blueberry sauce
  • 1½ pints blueberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Directions
for the platter
  1. Arrange the cake cubes on the platter in stripes, leaving room for the strawberries and a bowl filled with blueberry sauce in the upper left corner. Place the strawberries on the platter right before serving.
  2. In a cold metal bowl of a stand mixer or in a large cold metal mixing bowl with a hand mixer, use cold beaters to beat the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it. You can make the whipped cream a day ahead, just store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve then lightly beat with a whisk.
for the blueberry sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the blueberries, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and ¼ cup water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. The sauce should be thickened. Remove from the heat and blend in a blender or with an immersion blender. Alternatively you could strain in a mesh strainer to remove the blueberry chunks. If you prefer the chunks of blueberries in the sauce then you can just leave it as is. Cool to room temperature then store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Notes
I used a box mix and baked it in two square baking pans. I lined the baking pans with parchment paper then made the angel food cake according to the package instructions, baking at 325 degrees (my pans were nonstick) for 35 minutes, or until the tops were dark golden. When they came out of the oven I leaned the pans on their sides and when they were mostly cool I took them out of the pans and cut them into cubes.

Blueberry sauce recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

Even though it’s still June I’m here sharing the Food Network Magazine July cookies because they are perfect for the Fourth of July. Like the May macarons I skipped, these cookies were slightly involved, but there’s also ice cream so of course I stuck it out.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

Have you ever made homemade ice cream sandwiches? I have a handful of times, but they can be difficult to get right because the texture of the cookies is so important. The cookies needs to be soft enough that they don’t get too hard in the freezer so you can actually bite through the ice cream treat. They also can’t be too soft that the cookie falls apart when you try to put the ice cream sandwich together.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

One thing the Food Network Magazine got right was definitely the texture of the cookies for these Ice Cream Sandwich Stars. I thought they were too soft and underdone when I baked them, but they ended up being just the right texture for ice cream sandwiches. The cookies have a malted milk vanilla flavor that isn’t too sweet, which is another reason they work well for making into ice cream sandwiches. I would not recommend baking and eating these cookies on their own; they seem specifically designed for consuming with creamy vanilla ice cream.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you get the Food Network Magazine then you know their version of these cookies are bright cherry red. I did run out of red gel food coloring so mine shown here only have half the amount the recipe below calls for, but even with the full amount I’m not sure how the cookies would ever be that color since the cookies get fairly browned by being baked in the top 1/3 of the oven. I’m curious to see if anyone else is able to get the ice cream sandwiches that bright red color or if it was all food styling and editing tricks.

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

Either way, they still looked cute with all the Fourth of July red, white and blue sprinkles. I have an easy red, white and blue dessert I’ll be sharing next week right before the holiday so stay tuned!

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars  |  Lemon & Mocha

Ice Cream Sandwich Stars
 
Yield: 9 ice cream sandwiches
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons red gel food coloring
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup malted milk powder (such as Carnation original)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Red, white and blue nonpareils or 4th of July sprinkles, for decorating
  • 3 pints vanilla ice cream
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 with the rack positioned in the upper third of the oven. Line a rimmed 13x18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper, buttering the pan so the parchment paper stays put. Butter and four the parchment, tapping out the excess flour.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the vanilla, food coloring and milk. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, malted milk powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, shortening, sugar and brown sugar on low speed until combined. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, beating after each addition, until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the flour mixture then beat on low until just combined. Add the milk mixture and beat on medium until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and then spread until even. Sprinkle the nonpareils or sprinkles over top then bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake is just set. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire cooling rack. Once cool, use a 3¼-inch star cookie cutter to cut out 18 stars. Let the cookie stars sit in the fridge to firm up until you are ready to sandwich then with the ice cream.
  4. While the cake is baking and cooling, cut out the ice cream stars. Line a baking sheet (that will fit in your freezer) with parchment paper. Take 1 pint of ice cream out of the freezer. Turn it on its side and cut into ½-inch thick slices, right through the cardboard and ice cream, starting with the wide end. You will get 3 to 4 slices out of the pint. Place the pint slices on the parchment and remove then cardboard wrapping then place the baking sheet in the fridge to firm up. Once the slices have firmed up, use a 3¼-inch star cookie cutter to cut the slices into stars, placing the ice cream scraps in a container for another use. Put back in the freezer then repeat with the remaining two pints.
  5. Once the ice cream stars are firm enough to handle, working with a few at a time sandwich the ice cream stars between 2 of the cookie stars. Return to the freezer until ready to eat. If not eating right away, wrap them in plastic wrap after they’ve had a chance to firm up.

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

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Tomatillo Guacamole

Tomatillo Guacamole  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tomatillo Guacamole is about to become your latest summer obsession. This is a recipe I pulled from my Food Network Magazine binder archives and next to the recipe they wrote, “I always make a double batch because we go through this so quickly!” They are not kidding around, this Tomatillo Guacamole is addictive.

Tomatillo Guacamole  |  Lemon & Mocha

Right after I made it I could barely stop shoving it in my face long enough to get the photos. I also completely admit to rushing this photo set just so I could get back to the shoving-my-face action.

Tomatillo Guacamole  |  Lemon & Mocha

I determined that I am in love with the flavor of tomatillos because I couldn’t get enough of this dip in the same way I pine for a roasted tomatillo salsa I made for Matt’s birthday a couple years ago. Tomatillos may look like little green tomatoes wrapped in husks, but they are fruity, tart and loaded with fragrant flavor.

Tomatillo Guacamole  |  Lemon & Mocha

Like most guacamole recipes there is no cooking involved so you can have this in a bowl with chips on standby in under ten minutes. Tomatillos, avocado, onion, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, jalapeño, ground cumin and salt get pulsed together in a blender or food processor. If you are like me and not a fan of spice then remove the seeds and pith from the jalapeño. By removing the seeds and pith you get all the flavor with the heat. If you like spicy food just chuck it all in.

Tomatillo Guacamole  |  Lemon & Mocha

Even though the recipe is called a guacamole, to me the texture and taste is a cross between a guacamole and a salsa. If you prefer it thicker and chunkier like a guacamole then mash in another avocado at the end. You could always make it as is with an additional avocado or two at your disposal in case you decide you want that thicker guacamole consistency. I personally love the salsa-guacamole crossover because it is just the right balance of flavors while still being thick enough to scoop onto your tortilla chip of choice. Enjoy, friends!

Tomatillo Guacamole  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tomatillo Guacamole
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
  • ½ onion, coarsely chopped
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, see note
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Serve in a bowl with chips and veggies.
Notes
If you don’t want it spicy, remove the seeds and pith. If you want it spicy, leave the seeds.

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!

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Friday! We’re only two weeks away from 4th of July, which is like the king of barbecue holidays, so I figured it was only fitting to share a backyard barbecue side dish. My pasta obsession I wrote about the other week also extends to pasta salad and it is an essentially part of a barbecue in my opinion. I have quite a few other pasta salad recipes posted on Lemon & Mocha and I will link to those at the bottom of the post.

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I don’t know if I’ve discussed it here on the blog before, but I also love mayonnaise. Those of you who know me are probably nodding and rolling your eyes at that understatement since I actually more than love mayonnaise, but I won’t get into that right now. The important thing to know is that Matt doesn’t like mayonnaise so I’m always looking for ways to make dishes that are traditionally made with all mayo taste less mayo-y.

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

One of my favorite substitutions is to use nonfat plain Greek yogurt. It’s still creamy and rich without the mayo flavor. For this Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad, I have a 50/50 combination of mayonnaise and plain Greek yogurt. It keeps the pasta salad from tasting too heavy, which means you will want to go in for seconds! This pasta salad variation with crisp broccoli, sweet grapes, toasted pecans and salty bacon is actually a very popular one, but if you’ve never had it before I could definitely see how it could seem like an odd pairing. However, it all just works!

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

There’s a great balance of creamy, salty, sweetness and acidity, also due to the red wine vinegar and agave in the recipe. Most recipes call for sugar, but I used agave instead, mostly because I like the taste and how the liquid form blends well with the other ingredients in the pasta salad.

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you like broccoli salads I would recommend reducing the amount of farfalle pasta and increasing the amount of broccoli florets. That is how I’m going to make it next time; there’s something about those tender-crisp broccoli florets covered in bacon crumbles and pecans that I can’t get enough of! Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & MochaSummer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata  |  Lemon & MochaDiane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & MochaPasta Tuna Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Broccoli, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces farfalle pasta
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup agave (or sugar), see note
  • ⅓ cup diced red onion
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups red grapes, halved
  • 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the pecans by baking for 5 minutes, shaking the pan once while baking. Set aside to cool.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a large mixing bowl with cold water and ice. Blanche the broccoli florets by boiling them for 30 seconds, removing the florets with a slotted spoon to the ice bath, then drain until completely dry. After removing the broccoli florets from the boiling water, add the farfalle pasta and cook until al dente. Drain until completely dry.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or serving dish, combine the blanched and dry broccoli florets, the cooked and dry farfalle pasta, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, sugar, red onion, red wine vinegar and salt. Let chill for at least 3 hours. When ready to serve, toss with the toasted pecans, grapes and crumbled bacon.
Notes
Start with ¼ cup then increase up to ⅓ cup depending on taste preference.

 

Strawberry Caprese Bites with Basil Vinaigrette

Strawberry Caprese Bites with Basil Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

I know, another appetizer bite! I told you I’m all about them so here we are with another one that’s just right for both caprese and strawberry season. There’s nothing like a classic caprese salad with ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt.

Strawberry Caprese Bites with Basil Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes, though, I like switching it up and one of my favorite ways is by adding fruit. The sweetness of fruit pairs so well with the saltiness of the cheese and the acidity of the tomatoes. Last summer I posted my Melon Prosciutto Mozzarella Skewers and the Watermelon Caprese Salad. These bites are simple recipes like those except we have mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and strawberries.

Strawberry Caprese Bites with Basil Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

This was my first time having strawberries as part of a caprese salad. Unlike the cantaloupe and the watermelon, which I’ve had before at restaurants, I’ve never ordered a caprese salad with strawberries, although I’m sure there’s some places out there with it on their menus. I wasn’t sure how the flavors would all work together, but I was hooked after one bite. In fact, Matt and I downed this whole platter in about ten minutes immediately after I took these photos.

Strawberry Caprese Bites with Basil Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

The sweetness of the ripe strawberries was exactly what I wanted with the mozzarella and tomato. What really ties it all together is the fresh and bright basil vinaigrette. I love basil in dishes, but sometimes I find myself wishing I could have the flavor of basil without all the big hunks of basil leaves. This easy vinaigrette can be whipped together in your blender or food processor and is concentrated with so much delicious basil flavor.

Strawberry Caprese Bites with Basil Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

You will have leftover vinaigrette, unless you make more Strawberry Caprese Skewers, which is perfect for drizzling over chicken or topping salads. Or you could be like Matt and just dip some toasty bread in it – yum! Enjoy!

Strawberry Caprese Bites with Basil Vinaigrette  |  Lemon & Mocha

Strawberry Caprese Bites with Basil Vinaigrette
 
Yield: 24 bites
Ingredients
  • 12 strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 24 bocconcini mozzarella balls
  • 24 grape or small cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ½ small shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 24 toothpicks
Directions
  1. Make the caprese bites by first skewering a strawberry halve, a mozzarella ball then a tomato with a toothpick. Repeat for the remaining caprese bites.
  2. In a high-speed blender, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil leaves, shallot, garlic and salt. Blend until smooth. Drizzle over the caprese bites.