cream cheese

Brown Eyed Baker’s Spinach Artichoke Dip

A good dip is hard to beat. I mean, how many times have I spoiled my dinner filling up on a crazy delicious appetizer… with no regrets? Too many to count probably, and totally worth it every time. I love the combination of creamy artichokes, slightly bitter spinach (for a little depth), smooth cream cheese, and salty Parmesan. Who doesn’t? I’m drooling just thinking about it. I owe my friend AnnMarie credit for bringing this winner to my attention.

As organic as possible: (you know I have to say that)

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1½ cups (6 ounces) finely shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Paprika, to taste (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Press the excess moisture from the spinach.

Combine the artichokes, spinach, 1¼ cups of Parmesan cheese, 1¼ cups of Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and garlic in a bowl and mix well.

Spoon the artichoke mixture into a 1½-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheeses on top, and then sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla or pita chips, crackers or vegetables.

Thank you Annie for sharing this recipe with me! View the original at www.browneyedbaker.com

Annie’s Lemon-Raspberry Cheesecake with Macadamia Nut Crust

My friend Annie is an excellent cook and baker. Her sugar cookie decorating is flawless (I’ve actually invited her over for a lesson) and after more than one meal I have requested recipes because of being blown away by her flavor combinations. It just so happens that she also creates perfect cheesecakes. Thankfully for me she is also completely generous with her time, ingredient lists, and instructions!

As organic as possible:

For the Crust:

1-8 oz pkg of macadamia nuts, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup of sugar

3/4 cup flour

Mix all 4 ingredients and press into 9″ cheesecake (spring form) pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Cheesecake:

2 lbs of cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups of sugar

1 Tbsp flour

3 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp fresly grated lemon zest

1 tsp of vanilla

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Using a stand up mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar and flour. Then add eggs and yolks one at a time. Add the zest and vanilla and mix until combined. Lastly, add the heavy cream and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the batter into the macadamia crust-lined pan and bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then 200 for 30 minutes. Turn it off and let the cheesecake sit in oven for 2 hours. When cooled completely apply topping as follows if desired:
The topping is from Ina Garten online (1 cup of raspberry jelly melted over low heat, then mixed with 2 pints of fresh raspberries until all the raspberries were coated)

Featured Image courtesy of Ryan French

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I know what you’re thinking. That is an unnatural shade of orange. And yes, I agree. But don’t let that stop you from trying this… because it’s SO GOOD! I mean super delicious. It’s flavor packed in every bite. I’m crazy about the stuff. It lets you enjoy the taste of buffalo chicken wings without the mess! But here’s the secret, you have to use Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce. I know, I know, it’s not organic. (Hey, I always say as organic as possible.) There is no comparison. You just have to believe me on this.

As organic as possible:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp butter, softened

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce

4 oz. Gouda, shredded and divided (or cheddar, but really Gouda)

 

I love using organic chicken that has already been cut into tenders for dips like this (although that may not be the most economical). They are so quick to boil, about 10 minutes, and easy to cut. If you are using whole breasts it could take longer (about 20 mins), make sure the chicken is cooked through.

In the meantime preheat the oven to 350°. Using a standing mixer (or your powerful arm and a utensil), cream the cheese, butter and salt together.

When the chicken is cooked, chop it into small diced pieces. (Shredding is an option, but I really prefer the small dices.) Add the chicken, hot sauce and a 1/3 of the Gouda shredded cheese to the cream cheese blend. Mix until all is well combined. Then spread the mixture in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish (or equivalent). Top with the remaining cheese (*note it won’t cover the dip completely). Place the dish in the oven and bake until bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

Serve with corn chips (not flimsy corn chips)… and maybe a personal bowl for yourself? Enjoy immensely.

 

Owen’s Jalapeño Cheese Roll

My husband likes to get creative in the kitchen- usually that means raiding the spice cabinet. This is one of his best creations. It’s a lot like those cheesy stuffed jalapeños or poppers, except it’s baked, not fried. (Which means it’s practically health food.) I have eaten a large portion as a meal, but my favorite way is to cut it into strips and serve it like an appetizer. The cheese really does give a nice balance and contrast to the heat of the jalapeño. I like things spicy… remember it’s a jalapeño roll. You know what you’re getting into.

As organic as possible:

4 oz. can or jar diced Jalapeños (do not drain)

8 0z. Cream cheese at room temperature

1 prepared or ready made Pizza crust, about 14 oz give or take

1-2 tsp Garlic Salt, plus more for sprinkling

2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp Butter at room temperature, divided, plus more for pan

2 Tbsp flour, plus more for pan

 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 13 x 9 inch baking sheet. Set aside.

Sprinkle flour on hard surface and roll out dough in a rectangle, approximately 12 x 9 inches. Cut the dough in half, so you have two 6 x 9 pieces.

In a medium bowl combine cream cheese, garlic (start with 1 tsp and taste for preference… you can always add more), 2 tablespoons of butter and jalapeños (including juice). Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated and creamy. Divide cheesy jalapeño mixture into 2 equal parts. Using half of the mixture, cover 2/3 of the prepared dough. Use the remaining half of the mixture and do the same on the other prepared dough sheet. Roll up 1/3 of the Flatten dough starting on the side where the cheese is on (cheese on top of cheese). Make sure the cheese is now all covered, bring the remaining 1/3 over the top. Gently pull the bottom sides out, fold over to the top, and pinch to seal in the cheese. Repeat with second roll.

On each roll, use 1 teaspoon of butter and rub on top of roll. Sprinkle with garlic salt (a light even covering). Place the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet, and put it into the oven. Cook until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and cut into 1 1/2″-2″ x 5″ slices. Serve as an appetizer or to accompany a meal. Please note these are spicy! And it pairs well with a side of Ranch dressing. 😉

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I really wish I could take credit for this recipe. I’ve been making it for so many years that it feels like mine. I mean when you’ve had something be a part of your holiday traditions longer than your children, that’s got to be something. And as often as I like to put my own twist on things, this recipe remains untouched – because it’s perfect every time, just the way it is. It’s creamy and luscious and sweet and seasonal with the pumpkin… so without further ado: From Better Homes and Gardens’ Test Kitchen Favorites:

As organic as possible: (ok, there’s my twist)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 20 squares)

1/3 cup sugar

3 Tbsp butter, melter

2 – 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup half-and-half or light cream

1 cup canned pumpkin

3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

4 eggs

1 – 8 oz carton dairy sour cream

1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. For crust, combine crumbs, the 1/3 cup sugar, and melter butter. Press onto bottom and about 2 inches up sides of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake in a 325°F oven for 5 minutes; set aside.
  2. For filling, in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, half-and-half, pumpkin, the 3/4 cup sugar, flour, the 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, beating on low speed just until combined.
  3. Spoon filling into crust-lined pan. Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 325°F oven for 1 hour or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken.
  4. Combine the sour cream, the 2 tablespoons sugar, and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; spread over cheesecake. Bake 5 minutes more.
  5. Cool in springform pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen crust from sides of pan with a thin-bladed knife or narrow spatula and cool 30 minutes more. Remove sides of pan; cool 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 4 hours up to 24 hours. Makes 16 servings.

To store cheese cake: Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or seal a whole cheesecake or individual pieces in a freezer bag, in an airtight container, or wrapped in heavy foil. Freeze a whole cheesecake for up to a month and pieces for up to 2 weeks. To serve, loosen the covering slightly. Thaw a whole cheesecake in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Thaw individual pieces at room temperature 30 minutes.

You’re welcome! Have a great weekend!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 20 squares)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melter
  • 2 - 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 - 8 oz carton dairy sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. For crust, combine crumbs, the 1/3 cup sugar, and melter butter. Press onto bottom and about 2 inches up sides of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake in a 325°F oven for 5 minutes; set aside.
  2. For filling, in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, half-and-half, pumpkin, the 3/4 cup sugar, flour, the 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, beating on low speed just until combined.
  3. Spoon filling into crust-lined pan. Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 325°F oven for 1 hour or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken.
  4. Combine the sour cream, the 2 tablespoons sugar, and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; spread over cheesecake. Bake 5 minutes more.
  5. Cool in springform pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen crust from sides of pan with a thin-bladed knife or narrow spatula and cool 30 minutes more. Remove sides of pan; cool 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 4 hours up to 24 hours. Makes 16 servings.
  6. To store cheese cake: Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or seal a whole cheesecake or individual pieces in a freezer bag, in an airtight container, or wrapped in heavy foil. Freeze a whole cheesecake for up to a month and pieces for up to 2 weeks. To serve, loosen the covering slightly. Thaw a whole cheesecake in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Thaw individual pieces at room temperature 30 minutes.
http://sadiesnest.com/pumpkin-cheesecake/

Smoky Cheese Ball

I don’t want to brag, but I’ve been told I make a pretty good cheese ball. Oh yeah, life of the party – right here. It’s honestly one of the easiest things to do. It’s so much better than store bought and worth the effort. The goal is to taste like cheese and be able to spread on a cracker. Because it’s so simple, using quality ingredients is mandatory; punishable by… a tasteless disaster! (Possibly.) Over the years I’ve made quite a few variations, and this one is a crowd pleaser every time.

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup Butter (1 stick), softened

12 oz Cream Cheese (1 1/2 bars), softened

1 1/2 tsp granulated Garlic

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp Milk

8 oz Smoked Gouda, shredded (can substitute with smoked cheddar)

3/4 cup Pecans

On the day I know I’m going to make a cheese ball, I get out my butter and cream cheese in the morning with my coffee. That way when I feel like getting to it, it’s ready to go. That’s like the extent of the difficulty. When you’re ready to get started I throw everything (except the pecans) in a stand up mixer. Although if you don’t have one, no worries; once everything is soft, it would be easy to mix by hand. Beat until creamy, scraping down the sides.

Now here is the trick for a perfect ball: Line a bowl with two sheets of cling wrap, in a cross pattern, pressing down with extra over the sides. Using a spatula, scoop the cheese into the center of the lined bowl. When all of the cheese is in, wrap the cheese with the plastic until covered and form a ball, pressing the cheese together lightly to rid of cracks and air pockets. Place back into the bowl and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. (You can easily make this a day ahead.)

Before serving (or transporting to a Partay) toast the pecans. I like using the toaster oven for small batches like this, but stove top and conventional oven will work too. Heat in a dry skillet over medium heat (watching and tossing) or at about 350º for 6-7 minutes, just until you start catching the aroma of the nut. I don’t like the nuts over toasted for this. Then chop the nuts into small pieces. Remove the ball from the plastic wrap and roll around in the nuts. pressing nuts onto every open space. Don’t worry if the wrap left not-so-pretty lines, they will be covered with beautiful nut pieces! Place on a serving tray with assortment of crackers and spreading knife. Get ready to live.

Smoky Cheese Ball

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Butter (1 stick), softened
  • 12 oz Cream Cheese (1 1/2 bars), softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Milk
  • 8 oz Smoked Gouda, shredded (can substitute with smoked cheddar)
  • 3/4 cup Pecans

Instructions

  1. Let butter and cream cheese soften.
  2. Throw everything (except the pecans) in a stand up mixer. If you don't have one, no worries; once everything is soft, it would be easy to mix by hand.
  3. Beat until creamy, scraping down the sides.
  4. Line a bowl with two sheets of cling wrap, in a cross pattern, pressing down with extra over the sides.
  5. Using a spatula, scoop the cheese into the center of the lined bowl.
  6. When all of the cheese is in, wrap the cheese with the plastic until covered and form a ball, pressing the cheese together lightly to rid of cracks and air pockets.
  7. Place back into the bowl and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. (You can easily make this a day ahead.)
  8. Before serving toast the pecans. Heat in a dry skillet over medium heat (watching and tossing) or at about 350º for 6-7 minutes, just until you start catching the aroma of the nut.
  9. Remove the ball from the plastic wrap and roll around in the nuts. pressing nuts onto every open space. Don't worry if the wrap left not-so-pretty lines, they will be covered with beautiful nut pieces!
  10. Place on a serving tray with assortment of crackers and spreading knife.
http://sadiesnest.com/smoky-cheese-ball/

15 Minute Creamy Pasta

This creamy dish takes about the time to make as it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. The sauce is tangy and cheesy. My family eats a lot of pasta, a lot. It’s fun to have a quick creamy white sauce. This recipe uses low fat dairy, so it feels light but still decadent. And because the cheese still has bite, you won’t miss the meat!

As organic as possible:

1 pound pasta (rotini or what have you)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1/2 onion, diced small

1 tsp dried basil

1 cup low fat cottage cheese

1- 8 oz block reduced fat Cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp grated Parmesan

1 tsp granulated garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1/8 tsp freshly grated black pepper

2-3 Tbsp low fat milk

Bring water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the diced onion and let cook for about 2 minutes, add dried basil and let infuse in the oil (if you prefer fresh, double the amount and add at the end). Add the cheeses, garlic, salt, red pepper, black pepper and milk. Allow the cheese mixture and seasonings to melt together and combine. If the sauce seems thick, add another tablespoon or so of milk. When pasta is cooked and drained, the sauce should be completely melted and creamy. Top the pasta with sauce and serve!

Strawberries and Cream-Cheese Cake

We love cream-cheese frosting. What’s not to love about cream-cheese frosting? The crux of the issue is that the cake had until this point taken a back seat. It was basically a vehicle to obtain something more desirable; just a means to an end. Then you take something as delicious and simple as strawberries and cream. It’s all about the berry… okay and the cream. Well let’s just put them both together and have something outstanding. We don’t need to limit ourselves to carrot and red velvet cake. Besides strawberries are gorgeous, and scream summer time! And who’s ready for that? I know I am! Oh, and the best part, you don’t have to worry about keeping it chilled all day.

As organic as you can:

Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened

2 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs (room temperature)

2 pints strawberries, rinsed, dried, stemmed and halved (includes berries for topping)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 1/4 cup milk

Frosting:

1 8 oz. block of cream cheese

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) softened

2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 x 1 1/2 inch round pans. (Side note: If you wanted to forgo the layers, you could totally do this in a 13 x 9 baking dish. Another side note: they make some great organic sprays for greasing your pans, otherwise do the classic thin even layer of butter and dusting of flour.)

In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk ingredients together. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer. Add sugar and vanilla and beat (or cream) until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating them in as you go. Add lemon juice and beat again. Next, alternately add dry ingredients and milk to the butter mixture; because it is a baking law. Just mix until combined.

Select about 5 of the berries and dice into small pieces. Then put those pieces on a plate (to catch juices that might escape on a cutting board,) and mash them with the back of a fork. Gently fold the berries into the batter. When all is combined, pour the batter equally into the two prepared cake pans.

Put the pans in the oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until you poke them in the center with a toothpick and it comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then, making sure they have separated from the sides of the pans (you can trace the sides of the pans with a knife to help this if they haven’t,) flip the cakes over on to the wire racks to cool. You should notice the cakes have a nice density, perfect to stand up to the rich frosting. You probably also noted the cakes are dotted with lovely bursts of berries, and you’re thinking “those are fantastic just like that!” (That’s if they released from your pans of course…) Just wait. Let them cool completely before frosting.

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To prepare the frosting, add cream cheese and butter into a mixing bowl. Using a mixer, beat together until entirely combined and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese/butter mixture about 1/2 cup at a time. (Side note: I emphasize the “sift” portion of this direction, because if you’ve ever tried to skip this detail for any recipe, you know that unsifted powdered sugar balls are near impossible to beat out.) After the first 2 1/2 cups of sugar are incorporated, check for frosting for sweetness. I prefer a balance to still taste the tang of the cream cheese, but if you like it a little sweeter, add the rest of the sugar.

Place one of your cakes on top of a cake stand or plate. (If one of them came out not as pretty as the other, use that one.) Using half of your frosting mixture, spread it out evenly over the top of the cake. Then using half of your halved strawberries, place them randomly and evenly flat side down on top of the frosting. Next place the second cake on top of the frosted and berried cake. Using the remainder of the frosting, repeat the process. Then take a step back and admire your work, because layered cakes topped with white fluffy frosting and berries are beautiful to look at.

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