Sweet & Salty Salmon

Sweet & Salty Salmon  |  Lemon & Mocha

I don’t cook salmon often so when I finally do I want it to taste unbelievably good. The main reason we don’t have salmon in our regular rotation is because Matt is not a fan. So anything that can mask the “salmony-ness” as Matt puts it is an instant winner in our house.

Sweet & Salty Salmon  |  Lemon & Mocha

Both Matt and I devoured this Sweet and Salty Salmon. The salmon is marinated and then baked in the marinade, which keeps the fish super moist and tender. The sweet and salty marinade also imparts a ton of flavor on the salmon. The marinade is mostly brown sugar, soy sauce and lime juice. Add in the ginger, jalapeño and cilantro (or parsley if you’re like us and don’t like cilantro), and you have a total Asian-Mexican fusion happening in your kitchen.

Sweet & Salty Salmon  |  Lemon & Mocha

I found this recipe in one of my absolute favorite cookbooks – Pati’s Mexican Table. I bought it on a whim and made seven recipes out of it for Matt’s Mexican food themed birthday weekend last year. You would think with seven recipes there would be at least a couple that were just okay, but every single one was so amazingly delicious. After that, I am fully confident to cook anything from the book and know the dish will be a winner, and this salmon proved that even more for me the other week. I was nervous about buying a Mexican cookbook since I am so intolerant to spicy food, but I have not had any issues. If you are looking for some delicious meals that have a totally different flavor profile than what you are used to cooking I very highly recommend this cookbook. Just like the Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, if you remove the seeds and pith from the jalapeño it will not make the marinade spicy. However, still be careful with how you cut the jalapeño or any chili pepper!

Sweet & Salty Salmon  |  Lemon & Mocha

I had an unfortunate incident while making this dish. On photo shoot days I’m so busy cooking and photographing that I don’t have time to sit down and eat so I was multitasking by eating a piece of toast while preparing this marinade. I thought I was being careful about not using my hand that had touched the jalapeño seeds, but I must have switched hands and used my jalapeño hand for the toast. Instant searing pain on the outside of my lip ensued, forcing me to guzzle milk and frantically Google hot pepper burn remedies. This resulted in one so-so solution, which was very carefully washing the outside of my lip with dish soap, and one fantastic solution – peanut butter! I smeared it on my lip and felt instant relief. I also ate some for good measure. I let it sit on my lip for about an hour just to make sure I was in the clear and I was completely pain-free! So, the point of all the dramatics is to be careful when you are using hot peppers, even a mild one like jalapeño. And if you do get a burn, grab that jar of Jif!

Sweet & Salty Salmon  |  Lemon & Mocha

Also, in case you were wondering, these are the seven recipes I made from the cookbook for Matt’s birthday last year! I will be posting the green rice recipe on Wednesday, but let me know in the comments below if there’s another recipe you would like me to make again and post!
– Charred Tomato Salsa (salsa roja)
– Cooked Green Salsa (salsa verde)
– Creamless Cream of Zucchini Soup (crema de calabacita)
– Oaxaca-Style Mushrooms and Cheese Quesadillas
– Blissful Corn Torte
– Creamy Poblano Rajas (rajas con crema)
My Favorite Green Rice (arroz verde)

Sweet & Salty Salmon  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sweet & Salty Salmon
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and pith removed, minced
  • 1½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 salmon filets, 4-6 ounces each, skin-on
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro leaves
  • 2 scallions, stems removed and sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, jalapeño, ginger, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes while stirring until the brown sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  2. In a baking dish large enough for the salmon to be in a single layer, place the salmon then pour the marinade on top. Carefully flip the salmon to completely coat in the marinade before leaving the salmon skin-side down. Cover and refrigerate the salmon for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Several times while it’s marinating spoon the marinade over the salmon.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the salmon from the fridge 10 minutes before cooking. Bake the fish for 15-18 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork. Carefully remove the skin before serving and garnish with the parsley and scallions.

Recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table.

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!

Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes

Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

How fun are these Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes (see what I did there)?! I’ve been seeing this style cupcake on Pinterest for a while now where you bite into it and everything falls out like a piñata, but I thought it would be even more fitting if the piñata style cupcakes actually mimicked the look of a piñata.

Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I dyed my vanilla buttercream with food coloring and then layered the frosting in stripes with a thin pastry tip to look like the crepe fringe on a piñata. I used a round tip 5 from this set.

Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

The best part of these cupcakes is that they are filled with mini M&M’s! Mini M&M’s are one of my favorite types of M&M’s because you get to eat a whole bunch of them. Their rainbow coloring also adds to the fun factor.

Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I use Funfetti box cake mix for this recipe because I have yet to try a homemade version that compares. If you know of one, comment below! Another reason for the box mix is when you have a lot of decorating involved sometimes it is just easier to have the cake ready to go in a few minutes.

Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

The inspiration for these Funfetti Mini M&M’s Piñata Cupcakes was my friend’s 30th birthday! My friend Lauren loves Funfetti, is obsessed with M&M’s and we also have this thing with piñatas. On my 21st birthday my friends gave me a piñata named Paco. Paco became our mascot and lived with us for all of junior year and then moved with us to our apartment senior year. Below, Paco is seen celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Lauren, my friend Katelyn and myself. In a goofy way he holds a special place in some of our best college memories and I can’t help but smile every time I see a piñata.

201804241lemonandmocha2

So make someone smile this weekend and celebrate with these Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes!

Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Funfetti Mini M&M Piñata Cupcakes
 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 1 box Funfetti cake mix, batter made according to package
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4-5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Food coloring
  • 1 cup mini m&ms
Directions
  1. Bake the Funfetti cake mix into 24 cupcakes following the instructions on the package. Let cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla and salt. Beat for 3 minutes, scrapping down the sides as needed. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more sugar. Divide into 4 small bowls. Dye with the food coloring. I used regular blue, regular red, neon orange and neon green. Place into piping bags fitting with a thin tip. Set aside.
  3. Use a cupcake corer or a knife to remove the middle of the cupcake. Cut the top of the cupcake “core” you just removed and set aside the rest. Fill the cupcake with about 2 teaspoons on mini m&ms - enough so it is almost to the top of the cavity with enough room for the cake “core” top. Place the cake “core” top on the m&ms. It should look like you never even cut it open other than the circular cut line. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.
  4. Frost the crepe paper frosting on the piñata cupcakes. Starting with the color you want on the bottom (for reference, this was my red), pipe a straight line starting at the bottom quarter of the cupcake down to the bottom of the cupcake. I found it easiest to start in the middle and then work my way out to either side. Repeat with the rest of the cupcakes. Taking the second color (this was my blue), pipe a straight line starting at the halfway mark of the cupcake down to just over the first color. Start in the middle then work your lines out to either side. Repeat with the rest of the cupcakes. Take the third color (this was my orange), and pipe a straight line, this time starting at the top quarter mark of the cupcake down to just over the second color. Work your way out to both sides and repeat for the remaining cupcakes. Using your final color, which will be the color you want on the top (this was my green), pipe a straight line starting at the top of the cupcake down to just over the third color. Continue your straight lines out to both sides and repeat for the remaining cupcakes.
Notes
The moisture from the cupcake softened the m&ms and the coloring on the m&ms rubbed off. For the best impact, make and serve these cupcakes on the same day.

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!

Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce

Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Churro waffles! Yes! If you thought waffles couldn’t get any tastier just look at these photos. Crispy outside; soft inside; these waffles have been coated in cinnamon-sugar to channel some serious churro vibes. I stumbled across these insanely delicious waffles because last year for Matt’s birthday my brother-in-law, Nick, was coming to visit and I wanted to come up with a special menu. Matt’s birthday falls on the 5th of the month so I decided to deem the day Cinco de Matto and serve my spin on Mexican food all weekend.

Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

When deciding what to make for brunch, I immediately thought of churros since Matt loves them. I do too, I mean, who doesn’t like fried dough covered in cinnamon-sugar?! When I saw the churro waffle recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Half Baked Harvest, I knew I had to make them.

Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I wanted something to brighten up the waffles and Matt loves raspberries so I went with a raspberry puree. The acidity of the raspberry sauce cuts through the sweetness of the churro waffles and is a great accompaniment. Other than churro waffles, this raspberry puree would work with a lot of other recipes, from drizzling over cheesecake to mixing into plain Greek yogurt. But today, we are using it to amplify these already awesome churro waffles. I used my Perfect Buttermilk Waffle batter for these before coating them in the cinnamon sugar.

Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another fun idea for kids, or adults who like to eat like kids sometimes, would be to cut the waffles into strips before coating in the cinnamon-sugar – perfect for dunking into little bowls of the raspberry puree! You could lightly toast the waffle strips after cutting them to make sure they hold up to the dunking. Now all I can think about are waffle strips and how I want to go make some, but I digress. I hope you try these Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce soon! Or today since it is Waffle Wednesday, folks!

Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Churro Waffles with Raspberry Sauce
 
Yield: 8-10 waffles & ¾ cup raspberry sauce
Ingredients
for the waffles
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt
  • Whipped cream and fresh raspberries, for topping
for the raspberry sauce
  • 12 ounces frozen unsweetened raspberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
Directions
for the waffles
  1. Turn on the waffle iron to get it hot and spray with nonstick cooking spray, depending on manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine then create a well in the center for the liquid ingredients.
  3. Add the eggs to the cooled butter mixing bowl and beat until frothy. Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Beat again until well-combined. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. The buttermilk and leavening will create a batter full of air bubbles. Pour the batter onto your waffle iron in batches and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. If working in batches, place the cooked waffles directly on the rack of your oven or toaster oven on a low heat to stay warm.
  4. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a wide shallow bowl. Brush the warm waffles with the melted butter then dip in the cinnamon sugar to coat. I used my hands to sprinkle more on to make sure there was cinnamon-sugar in every nook and cranny. Repeat for all the waffles. Serve with the raspberry sauce, whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
for the raspberry sauce
  1. Thaw the raspberries in the microwave or on the stovetop. Once thawed, place a fine mesh strainer over a small saucepan. Press the raspberries through the strainer by pressing with the back of a spoon. Scoop the seeds off the strainer as needed. When all the raspberries have been pushed through and left only the seeds, all the sugar and lemon juice to the sauce pan. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the raspberry sauce is heated through. Serve warm.

Churro waffle recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest.
Raspberry sauce recipe from Joy of Baking.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have another healthy make-ahead lunch for you today! Before you run away, healthy can mean super tasty! And kale doesn’t have to mean bitter, especially when it’s been nicely massaged, but I’ll say more on that later. As you know, I only like salads if they have lots of yummy goodies in them and this one delivers. Fresh sweet strawberries, creamy goat cheese and crunchy pecans bring this salad to a scarf-able level. We are still a little early for strawberry season, but as soon as it started feeling like springtime I had to run out to get some to make this salad.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

The other star of this dish is the simple, but delicious vinaigrette dressing. Made with just four ingredients the dressing has the right balance of acidity and sweetness to pair with the kale and strawberries. I use my uncle’s awesome homemade honey, but I recommend using local honey since it can help ease seasonal allergies and it supports your local beekeepers!

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

The reason this salad is a great make-ahead dish is because the kale tastes its best when it’s been given time to marinate in the dressing. Kale is a tough green, but that’s exactly why you have to baby it so much to bring out its best flavor. This is where the massaging comes in. A few years ago when kale was popping up everywhere I tried it at home a bunch of times with little success. Then I was out to dinner with a friend and ordered a kale salad to give it one final shot. I couldn’t believe how tasty it was and when I mentioned this to the waitress she said it was because they massage the kale. Basically, this means ripping and scrunching the kale leaves continuously for about five minutes. Kale is naturally bitter, but massaging it breaks down the cellulose structure wilting and softening the kale.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

One batch makes four lunch salads and sometimes I pair them with grilled chicken or turkey burgers for added protein. I love serving this Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans for cookouts, as well, since you can make it the night before and not have to worry about it while you’re busy with your family and friends. I hope you enjoy this salad all summer long!

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces kale
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, washed and stems removed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
for the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on a small baking sheet then toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Toss the pecans once during cooking and be sure to watch carefully so they do not burn. Set aside to cool.
  2. If your kale wasn’t pre-washed, wash and dry it. 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.
  3. Quarter the strawberries. Slice the grape tomatoes in half. Add to the kale along with the toasted pecans and goat cheese. Gently toss to combine. Add the dressing and gently toss to coat. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or even better if overnight.
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

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!

Grilled Steak with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce & Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Steak with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce & Grilled Asparagus  |  Lemon & Mocha

As you all know, I am an extreme planner so I have my posts planned out months in advance. And by months I mean all the way into January. Clearly I get a little carried away, especially when it comes to food. Then came along this glorious steak and sauce combination. It was completely unplanned and so outrageous that I moved a whole bunch of posts around just so I could share it with you sooner.

Grilled Steak with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce & Grilled Asparagus  |  Lemon & Mocha

This dish has three main components: a grilled sirloin steak, grilled asparagus and a creamy Gorgonzola sauce. I feel like I’m going to have a hard time describing this sauce in complete sentences because every time I think about it my brain goes fuzzy and the next thing I know I have drool all over my chin. But bear with me. This sauce is cheesy, creamy, savory and salty. It’s also loaded with thinly sliced mushrooms and sweet onion that have been cooked down so they melt in your mouth. Cliche, but fitting.

Grilled Steak with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce & Grilled Asparagus  |  Lemon & Mocha

The inspiration for this recipe was born out of my own cravings and food indecisiveness. I had some leftover Gorgonzola crumbles from the Healthy Chicken Cobb Salad that I wanted to use up. When I think of what pairs well with blue cheese my mind immediately goes to steak and mushrooms. I went back and forth, unable to decide, until I finally came up with this delicious solution of pairing it with both.

Grilled Steak with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce & Grilled Asparagus  |  Lemon & Mocha

This sauce turns tender steak into a decadent treat that will have you swooning. Or guarding your plate if you are eating with others. When I recipe-test I’m usually the only one in the kitchen so I have the fortunate ability to be able to really savor that first bite. And the second, and the third, and so on.

Grilled Steak with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce & Grilled Asparagus  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since the sauce is rich, serving the steak with simple grilled asparagus is the perfect balance. Also, the crisp asparagus is great at swiping any excess sauce off your plate. Another reason I’m so jazzed up about this sauce is that I created it completely on the fly without referencing any recipes for ratios or inspiration, which can be a lot harder than it sounds. The fact that it tastes so bomb and I came up with it on my own makes me want to shout the recipe from the rooftops! So even if you’re a planner like me and have your meals scheduled out for next week I highly recommend you move things around so you can make this dinner ASAP!

Grilled Steak with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce & Grilled Asparagus  |  Lemon & Mocha

Grilled Steak with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce & Grilled Asparagus
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the gorgonzola sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 2 cups sliced)
  • 1 glove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup gorgonzola crumbles
  • Salt and pepper to taste
for the steak
  • 2 8-ounce sirloin steaks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
for the grilled asparagus
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
for the gorgonzola sauce
  1. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and whisk together. Add the flour and continue to whisk until it has darkened slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sliced onions and ground black pepper and stir to coat. Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. The onions should be soft. Add the sliced mushrooms and the minced garlic, stir. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened, stirring occasionally.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the milk. Once the milk has had a chance to warm, about 1 minute, add the Gorgonzola crumbles. Stir as the Gorgonzola melts into a thick cheese sauce. You can keep stirring until all the crumbles have melted or leave a few crumbles un-melted. If the sauce looks too thick you can add another tablespoon of milk. Remove from the heat and taste. Adjust salt and pepper according to taste, but remember that the steak will also be seasoned with salt.
for the grilled asparagus
  1. Remove and discard the woody ends of the asparagus. If you lightly bend the asparagus stalk it will snap at a natural spot where the thick stem ends. Drizzle the asparagus with the olive oil then toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. I usually do about 5-6 grinds each of our salt and pepper grinders (they are small).
  2. Heat your grill or grill pan so it’s at medium-high heat. Grill the asparagus for 5 minutes, tossing/turning once while grilling. If your asparagus stalks are very thin you may only need 3 minutes, if the stalks are thick you may need longer than the 5 minutes. If you are using a grill not a grill pan I would suggest using a grill grid or basket so the asparagus doesn’t slip through the grill grates and adding about 5 minutes of grilling time.
for the steak
  1. Let your steak sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes before grilling. Lightly coat the steaks with the olive oil then season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat your grill to high heat or your grill pan to medium-high heat. Place the steaks on the hot grill or grill pan so they aren’t touching and let cook for 4-5 minutes. Carefully flip the steaks and let cook for another 3-5 minutes for medium-rare or 5-7 minutes for medium. The internal temperature of the steaks when you pull them off the grill should be 135 degrees F for medium-rare or 140 degrees F for medium.
  3. Let the steak rest for at least 5 minutes. Slice the steak and place on a serving dish then spoon the Gorgonzola sauce over top or serve alongside the grilled steak.
Notes
I used a grill pan for this dish. First I took the steak out of the fridge to come to room temperature. I chopped up my onion and mushrooms then I started cooking the sauce. While the sauce was cooking I grilled the asparagus in my grill pan, two batches at 4 minutes each. I placed them on a plate and grilled the steak. We like ours medium-rare so I did 5 minutes then flipped and did another 3 minutes. By the time the steaks were done resting, the sauce was done and it was time to eat!