Baked Crab Dip

When I was younger my extended family had a big Christmas party every year. There were gingerbread house contests, karaoke, full-family renditions of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and even a visit from Santa. A Christmas gathering still happens every year, but now that my generation of “kids” are older between work, distance and college, not everyone is able to make it, including myself this year. Even though I can’t be there I will certainly be thinking of all my family, especially my cousins, and how I’m amazed we ever ended up with actual gingerbread houses considering how much of the candy and frosting supplies we used to consume.

 

Being the food-obsessed person I have been all my life I will be missing all the family favorites everyone cooks each year. Last year my cousin had the fabulous idea of creating a cookbook of all our family recipes so now I have all the tasty traditions right on my bookshelf. Although it’s not as special to have the food without my whole family around, it still tastes every bit as delicious.

One of my absolute favorites is my Aunt Georgia’s crab dip. I could eat an entire bowl of this cheesy, creamy appetizer. You can serve it with crackers, but I love it with slices of crusty bread. Perfect for any holiday party since it’s incredibly easy and can be made ahead. Oh and did I mention that waiting for the bubbling cheese to cool down enough so I don’t burn my tongue makes me drool with anticipation? There’s been a lot of drooling on Lemon & Mocha lately; I would apologize, but then cheesy goodness like this dip might not make an appearance so I’m sure you will let it slide.

Baked Crab Dip
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • 8 ounces lump crab
  • 1 tablespoon mayonaise
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except the cheddar cheese.
  3. Lightly coat a casserole dish or cast iron skillet with cooking spray and add the crab mixture.
  4. Evenly spread the cheddar cheese over the top of the crab mixture.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm with slices of crusty bread or buttered crackers.

 

World’s Smoothest Chocolate Fudge

It’s official, holiday season is well underway. Decorations have taken over the stores, holiday party invitations have been received and here in New England it has been absolutely frigid. As ridiculous as I believe it is that the grocery store had Christmas themed candy on November 1st I am definitely guilty of early holiday enthusiasm including Christmas shopping and streaming my holiday music playlist well before Thanksgiving. Whether you are having trouble getting into the holiday spirit or you’ve been humming Christmas carols since August this fudge is sure to get you excited.

This here is the world’s smoothest fudge. I am allowed to make this claim because I have tried every fudge ever made across the globe including the one your grandma made last year. Although it was tasty, it does not hold a title quite like this one. Surprisingly simple, this fudge uses condensed milk instead of granulated sugar to lend to its smooth texture. The simplicity, delightfulness and versatility of this fudge recipe makes it a great holiday gift idea for family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and yourself. After you make this recipe and taste the rich chocolate you will be very torn. Part of you will want to keep it all to yourself because it’s habit forming. But part of you will want to give it all away because, well it’s habit forming and then we would have to add new pants to our holiday wish list. So make some, have some and spread the chocolately love.

One variation is to add chopped walnuts to the fudge. This is how my stepmom usually makes it, but she always leaves some without for me since I don’t like nuts interfering with my chocolate experience. However, I have some exciting variations I’m experimenting with so I will be sure to share in plenty of time for you to make this holiday season. Go and make this chocolate fudge now so you are ready to handle the dangerously delicious novelties I’ll have for you in a couple weeks.

 

Worlds's Smoothest Chocolate Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce Baker's unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • One 12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • One 14 ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions
  1. Line an 8" x 8" pan with wax paper and set aside.
  2. Melt butter and the baking chocolate square in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour in half the bag of chocolate chips and stir with a heatproof rubber spatula to help melt. Once partially melted add the rest of the bag of chocolate chips and stir until fully melted.
  4. Carefully stir in the condensed milk to combine and remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula.
  6. Refrigerate until the fudge is set then cut into bite size pieces. Best eaten straight from the fridge.
Notes
Variation: Add ½ cup chopped walnuts right before pouring chocolate mixture into the pan.

 

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Fresh Rolls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Just in case you forgot I figured I would remind you. Although I’m counting down the hours until I can eat until I can’t eat anymore, what’s even more exciting than actual Thanksgiving day is the day after Thanksgiving. It involves leftovers and I love leftovers. You get to revisit all your favorite dishes from the day before and there’s no waiting for everyone to sit down for the big meal. The leftovers are in your fridge waiting for you, calling your name… Unless of course you didn’t have Thanksgiving at your house or word got out that you were cooking Monday’s mushrooms and unexpected guests ate all your would-be leftovers. Sorry about that.

But sometimes after a couple rounds of leftovers your stomach needs a break. All that stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie weigh on you and your body craves something light and refreshing. That’s when it is time to reinvent your leftovers. These leftover Thanksgiving turkey fresh rolls are exactly what you will need the day after Thanksgiving. They may look complicated, but I made about eight of these in less than ten minutes. After a long day you don’t need something that takes a lot of work.

Soaking the turkey in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil moistens the leftover slices. The cellophane noodles are a light filler and there’s no boiling required as they only need to be soaked in warm water. Then you can add whatever vegetables you have sitting in your fridge. Leftover avocado from guacamole? Done. Carrots, lettuce and cucumbers from leftover salad fixings? Done, done and done. I used carrots and lettuce in mine because that was what was in my fridge, but feel free to get creative. The sweet and tangy cranberry dipping sauce compliments the spring rolls well and helps you use up all that leftover cranberry sauce. So when you’re running out to the store today for those last minute ingredients make sure to pick up some spring roll wrappers and cellophane noodles. Your stomach will thank you for it, as will your taste buds.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Fresh Rolls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce
 
Yield: 8 fresh rolls
Ingredients
for the rolls
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 cup chopped roast turkey
  • ¼ cup grated carrot
  • ½ package cellophane noodles
  • 8 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 cup roughly chopped lettuce leaves
for the sauce
  • ¼ cup cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
Directions
for the rolls
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and seasonings. Add the turkey pieces and grated carrot, stir to coat and let soak.
  2. Place the cellophane noodles in a medium mixing bowl. Heat 4 cups of water and pour over the noodles. Let soak for 10 minutes, or until soft. Transfer the noodles to a small bowl with a fork or tongs leaving the water in the medium bowl for the spring roll wrappers. Rip the noodles or cut with kitchen scissors into shorter strands about 1 inch long. It doesn't need to be exact or even.
  3. Take the first spring roll wrapper and submerge it in the warm water the noodles were soaking in. After the wrapper is soft and pliable, about 10 seconds, remove from the water and carefully lay flat on a cutting board or clean counter.
  4. Take a small amount of the noodles and place in a line in the middle of the spring roll wrapper. Add a spoonful of the turkey mixture onto the noodles and a couple pieces of chopped lettuce. Fold the two sides next to the ends of the filling line you created up and over part of the filling. Take the top of the wrapper and pull it over the filling then tuck it under and roll the wrapped filling towards you to finish the roll. It sounds complicated, but once you do one or two you will get the hang of it.
  5. Repeat for the rest of the rolls.
for the sauce
  1. Place the cranberry sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir and mash the cranberry sauce until mostly smooth.
  2. Whisk in the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce then bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has slightly thickened, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and serve with the rolls.
Notes
You can use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge as part of the filling. Some ideas include cucumber or avocado cut in 1 inch strips.

Inspiration from The Pioneer Woman.
Dipping sauce from allrecipes.com.

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Today is a special day. Partly because I am presenting you with these outrageous stuffed mushrooms just in time for you to make for Thanksgiving, but I’ll get to that in a second. It is also my stepmom’s birthday. You should be wishing her a happy birthday, buying her presents and even throwing her a party! Because if it was not for her you would not be staring at these tempting, fragrant grilled stuffed portobello mushrooms. In fact, if it wasn’t for my stepmom you would probably be reading a blog about chicken fingers, noodles and fish sticks right now, although that does sound rather delicious.

My palate growing up was mostly limited to “kid’s food,” but my stepmom opened up a whole new world for me. Artichokes, couscous and eggplant, oh my! And mushrooms, thank heavens for the mushrooms. The greatest gift my stepmom has ever given me, aside from love, support and all that good stuff, is the gift of mushrooms. Although she didn’t gift them to me in the literal sense, as that would be a little silly and hard to wrap, I had never given mushrooms a second glance until she cooked them for me. And as they say, the rest is history.

Fast forward to today where these mushrooms sit on your computer screen exploding with juicy sausage bits, creamy marscarpone cheese, nutty Parmesan, crunchy bread crumbs and tantalizing herbs and spices. The mushrooms themselves have been grilled to perfection as they are hearty in taste, but delicate enough in texture to yield to your fork’s cut. Are you still with me or did you you already run to your kitchen to start making these? If you haven’t, then what are you waiting for?! Perfect as a side dish, main dish or even in place of traditional stuffing for a tasty twist this Thanksgiving, gifting these mushrooms to your guests might result in future spontaneous house calls around dinnertime. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Grilled and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces marscarpone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan
  • 6 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Crumble the sausage and add it to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, or until cooked through, stirring often.
  2. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute then remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Add the marscarpone, parsley flakes, oregano, bread crumbs and ½ cup of the Parmesan to the cooked sausage and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil or cooking spray then place the mushrooms stem side down on the grill pan. Lightly coat the tops of the mushrooms with olive oil or cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms for 4 minutes.
  6. Turn the mushrooms over and cook them for another 2 minutes.
  7. Carefully fill the mushrooms with the sausage mixture. Top with the remaining Parmesan cheese then tent some tin foil over the pan to help the Parmesan melt. Grill for another 6 minutes then remove from the heat and serve.
Notes
I used fully cooked roasted garlic chicken sausages from Trader Joe's and would highly recommend them for this recipe. If you use them as well follow these adaptations to the recipe above:
*Omit the minced garlic
*There is not a thick casing so you can simply crumble and tear the sausage with the casing intact
*Still complete the first step of the recipe even though they are cooked because it will help brown and warm the sausages

Recipe slightly adapted from Giada at Home.

Pumpkin Hummus

This post was not supposed to be pumpkin hummus. I had other recipes in store for you before this hummus was even a thought. Upon realizing I had yet to post a pumpkin recipe I immediately went out and purchased a can of pumpkin puree. Trial one was some sort of chocolate pumpkin tart, but I never got to the pumpkin portion. Although the chocolate tart shell tasted delicious, it wasn’t very… photogenic… so Matt and I happily ate the scrapped tart shells while I moved on to trial two. One skillet pumpkin cornbread later I was staring at a beautiful dish that would have photographed quite nicely, but after one bite I knew it wasn’t for Lemon & Mocha. Thankfully I refuse to settle on mediocre dishes and was determined to share some pumpkin tastiness so this smooth and addictive pumpkin hummus was able to find its way to the homepage. The lesson to be had here is try, try, again, if you fall down get back up, no tart shell shall go uneaten, or something like that.

If you are looking for something light to serve before your big Thanksgiving meal next week or you simply would like something tasty to snack on and get you in the fall spirit look no further than this pumpkin hummus. Do you have five minutes and either a food processor or an immersion blender? Then you are five minutes away from savory, creamy, pumpkiny hummusy perfection. The pepita garnish provides a great crunch and nicely compliments the cumin and cinnamon spiced pumpkin flavor. What are pepitas? Well they are just shelled pumpkin seeds. I know you’re thinking I’m super smart right now, but don’t feel bad, Google taught me that just the other day! I served this hummus with cinnamon sugar pita chips, but any sort of pita chip or cracker will pair well. Another idea is to serve pumpkin hummus and roasted turkey wraps the day after Thanksgiving- now we’re talking.

Pumpkin Hummus
 
Ingredients
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 5 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Pepitas for garnish
Directions
  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas to remove the excess salt. Set aside in the strainer to dry.
  2. Puree the chickpeas, pumpkin, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and cinnamon in a food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth.
  3. Season with salt to taste. Top with the pepitas before serving.

Recipe adapted from the October 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine.