Tag-Archive for ◊ cream cheese ◊

31 Jan 2011 Strawberry Sandwiches

I have never seen a recipe published for this sandwich, but it’s one of my favorites (probably because it’s more like dessert than a sandwich.  I have my demons, and all of them are sweet…).  I first encountered this sandwich on the campus of San Diego State University, in the late 1970’s, then I never saw it anywhere else, except in my own kitchen. I’ve made my version a lot over the years, usually for tea (tea-the-meal, the one with finger sandwiches, scones, little cakes, and  served on fancy china).  I love tea-the-meal.  It’s a grazers delight; little bits of everything, and everything tasty and pretty. But I digress, back to the Strawberry Sandwich.  (I have never been able to spell “sandwich” without spell check…, it just doesn’t look right without another “h” in there. And I digress yet again…) With strawberries now showing up in our farmer’s markets (yes, in January!) I had a hankering for this sandwich, so I made one, or two.

Like I said, this s-a-n-d-w-h-i-c-h is a great addition to any tea, but it’s a good treat to serve at play dates (PB&J for the kids, SBS for the moms), pack for a walk or a picnic, or to pull together if someone stops by and you want to keep them around for awhile.  The trick to pulling these together at the last minute?  Keep a loaf of raisin bread in the freezer!  Pull out 2 or 4 slices when needed, by the time you get the honey and cream cheese out, the strawberries sliced, and the tea brewing, the bread will be defrosted and ready to use.  These sandwiches would also be good for a Valentine’s Day treat, or a special Mother’s Day event. My daughter had a catering gig on Sunday and I suggested this sandwich to round out a fabulous spread of finger sandwiches. This sandwich could fit in anywhere!  I really can’t understand why no one else makes it.

So, a big Thank You to the cafeteria ladies of San Diego State University for this lovely sandwich.  I hope you get your day in the sun 🙂

Strawberry Sandwich

For each sandwich:

2 slices of good quality raisin bread or cinnamon-raisin bread

approx 1T cream cheese (whatever kind you like, full fat, low fat, no fat…)

approx 1 teaspoon honey (or a little less)

3-4 strawberries, thickly sliced, rounded edges set aside for another use.

Thinly spread the cream cheese on both sides of the raisin bread.  On one side, drizzle the honey and spread evenly over the cream cheese.  On the other slice, lay thick, flat slices of strawberry.  It’s bit of a jigsaw puzzle to get them all to fit without leaving too much space between the slices, but it’s only a small puzzle, nothing intimidating.  Put the bread with honey on top of the bread with the strawberries.  For easiest slicing, flip the sandwich over.  Cut off all the crusts, and then slice as desired.  I usually get three rectangular shaped finger sandwiches from each, but in the picture above I cut in half on the diagonal.  Eat within a few hours.  The sandwich does not keep long, and definitely not overnight.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  If you are looking for a more savory sandwich to serve with this, check out the post for Smoked Chicken & Almond Sandwiches!

29 Jan 2011 Cream Cheese Frosting

I have been in a funk all week.  I made two more cakes from that book I was all aglow about last weekend.  I’m no longer glowing.

First off, I wanted to make the Red Velvet cake; the picture looked so great, and it was front and center on the cover, so I had high hopes.  The recipe was a bit odd though.  Red Velvet cake is supposed to have three things: 1) a very, very light chocolate taste 2) a very bright red color and 3) a pronounced tang from the addition of buttermilk and vinegar.  This cake was good on point one.  The recipe called for ¼ cup of cocoa powder, which is good.  I have seen some recipes for as little as 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder.  I wanted some chocolate taste in the cake!  The recipe also hit a high note on the red color.  The color in the picture looked good, and recipe only called for one tablespoon of red food coloring.  I have seen some recipes call for as much as three tablespoonsful!  My first hint of trouble was with point three, no buttermilk and no vinegar!  The recipe called for sour cream, but I was still going to go with it, thinking the sour cream would have enough tang.

Once I started making the cake, the trouble began.  First, the directions called for “a food processor”.  Um no.  The directions then said, ” Cream the butter in a mixer on medium speed”.  Not a food processor, a mixer.  Bad mistake. THEN, the directions called for two 8 or 9 inch cake pans, but the pictures of the cake-both on the cover, and next to the recipe-were of a three layer cake.  Uh-oh.  Having only two matching 8-inch cake pans, and two matching 9-inch cake pans, not three matching of either size, I decided to bake the cake in the  9-inch layer pans thinking the recipe probably meant to three 8-inch pans or two 9-inch pans.  I thought wrong.  I had too much batter for two 9-inch pans.  The pans were this close to overflowing.  The cakes baked up huge, and domed.  I am pretty sure the cake needed to be baked in three 9-inch pans.  Not sure how many 8-inch pans.  How could there be two such glaring mistakes on one recipe, especially in a book based on recipes that had been tested and that explicitly stated (and the specific reason I bought this book) that recipes with problems had been “rebaked” until they were right?

BUT, after baking, the cake looked good, but a bit crisp on the outside (probably due to over-baking because each pan held too much batter) and seriously domed.  Never mind, I thought.  I can fix it.  I trimmed off the over-browned sides of the cakes, and cut off the domed tops.  The cakes stacked nicely together.  Firm enough for a stable two layer cake, I thought.  I wasn’t overwhelmed when I tasted the discarded domed top, but I thought that was because the cake was still a bit warm from the oven, and didn’t have frosting on yet.

I mixed up the frosting for the cake.  It went on lovely and I spread it on thickly, but I definitely had enough left over for a third layer! Nevertheless, I though the cake was beautiful.  Look at the picture! I was all excited to kick off my Valentine’s Day marathon chocolate posts with this cake…, until I tasted it.  The frosting was to die for, but the cake was No Big Whoop, in fact, it was a Bad Whoop.   The light chocolate taste was good, and there was a bit of a tang, but it wasn’t a good tang.  The cake just wasn’t good. The color was red, but with a bad tasting cake, it made things worse.  I tested the cake on twelve of my favorite testers, my Dining For Women group. Most said the cake was OK, but nobody wanted me to make it again.  Everyone would prefer a chocolate cake, or a yellow cake, or a lemon cake or a carrot cake or a coconut cake.  No one wanted any more Red Velvet cake. The next morning I tasted the cake again, and I knew it was all over.  It just was not a good tasting cake.  Remember the red velvet armadillo groom’s cake in “Steel  Magnolias”?  Did you want a piece? This cake tasted as bad as that cake looked!  It was a tragedy.

I did get three requests for the Cream Cheese Frosting though. The frosting I will make again.  So the frosting recipe I will share.  I hope you have a good cake recipe to use it on!

Cream Cheese Frosting

From “All Cakes Considered” by Melissa Gray

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar (about 7 ½ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter and cream cheese together at medium speed.  Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).  Add in the vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Makes enough frosting to decorate a three layer cake.

I served the Red Velvet cake, with another one made from the same book .  More problems with the recipe but well worth a rebake.  Version Two of the Drunken Monkey cake is sitting on my counter right now.  A definite improvement over Version One in looks. Taste testing tomorrow.  I sure hope it is good enough to post. Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

21 Dec 2010 Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Tomorrow we’re making Christmas sugar cookies then heading out to see the Christmas lights.  It’s finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here–after two weeks of relentless pounding.  First external with a broken pipe and the yucky clean up mess under the house, then internal with some sort of stomach ailment and tomorrow I have to deal with some expensive car issues… But it’s nothing that decorating a few Christmas cookies and then going out to look at some wonderful Christmas lights won’t cure!

I’ve only been using this recipe for sugar cookies for one year, but my “Gild-the-lily” friend Louise has been using it for a many years.  It’s quite a gift she is giving us, sharing this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Click here for the source recipe http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sugar-cookies-recipe The cookies are supposed to have “crisp edges and soft middles” and they do! Last year my daughter and I decorated these cookies with royal icing (see picture above), but we actually preferred to eat the cookies undecorated!  How shocking is that! I suppose a  light sprinkling of colored sugar would fancy these up, but I wouldn’t over do it. This cookie is very good “as is”; chewy, buttery and sweet!

We used an intricate snowflake cookie cutter last year, and the dough handled it well. No problems cutting out the shape, and the dough kept the shape and proportions when baked.  Not all sugar cookie doughs do you know!  I rolled the cookies out in a mixture of powdered sugar and flour and then baked them on parchment paper (I found out the hard way that cookies rolled out in powdered sugar stick to the cookie sheets).

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

3 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract (I used additional vanilla because I don’t care for almond flavor, and I am sure lemon, orange and rum would all work)
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375ºF. In medium bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. With mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy, usually about 5 minutes. Beat in extracts and egg. Add flour mixture. Mix until moistened. Form dough into discs, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour before rolling and cutting into shapes. Bake 8 minutes until just golden at edges.

Thanks so much for stopping by my kitchen today! Sing with me now… “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” La, la, laaaa!

24 Nov 2010 Pumpkin Roll

One of my friends has been making this for years.  I was intrigued by her pictures posted on Facebook of roll, after roll, after roll lined up along her kitchen counter, and then the comments from a number of people begging her to stop by and drop off a roll.  It took a few years, but finally she shared the “closely guarded secret family recipe” (with a wink and a smile).

I made my first pumpkin roll from Kim’s recipe last year, and my mother fell instantly head-over-heels in love.  She ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus had another slice for her 10 o’clock and then again for her 3 o’clock.  My mother eats like a sumo wrestler, and weighs 100 lbs dripping wet. I on the other hand look like a sumo wrestler and weighed 100 lbs in third grade.  Life is just not fair…

Ok, back on subject. Here, on my blog,  is Kim’s “closely guarded secret family recipe”.  There are a few changes, but it looks a lot like the recipe on the can of the Libby’s Pumpkin.  REALLY!!!  Have you ever read the recipe for Pumpkin Roll on the can?  Me neither, and I have been looking at it for 40 years!  It’s a good recipe.  The Pumpkin Roll is good.  Just ask my Mom.

I like Kim’s recipe.  It has more spice, and the filling is lower fat than the actual recipe on the Libby’s can.  Disclaimer: I did NOT say “low fat”, I said, “lower fat”. Got it?! The Pumpkin Roll recipe, according to Libby, can be successfully doubled, but not tripled. I made a double batch last night, and since my mom will not be here tomorrow, we’ll probably have enough!

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
¾ c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
¼ cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375º.

Beat eggs on high for 5 min.

Gradually add sugar to eggs. Then stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.

In another bowl, sift dry ingredients then fold into pumpkin mixture.

Spread batter evenly in a greased and floured (I use Pam for Baking) edged cookie sheet, 15x10x1. (Kim and I use a regular edged cookie sheet as opposed to the jelly roll pan specified on the Libby’s can. The jelly roll pan is smaller and cake doesn’t roll up as well when it’s that thick.)

If desired, top the batter with chopped walnuts.  Bake cake at 375º for 13-15 minutes.

Spread a cloth kitchen dish towel onto the counter.  Spread 1/3 cup powdered sugar evenly over the dish towel. DON’T use a fuzzy dish towel!  Use something like a flour sack dish towel!

Remove cake from oven. Immediately, turn out cake onto the  dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar.  While cake is  still hot, starting at narrow end, roll towel and cake together and set aside to cool.

Cream Cheese Filling

1 c. powdered sugar
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
½ tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth.

Unroll cake and spread filling over cake.

Roll up again (without the towel!) and refrigerate overnight (if at all possible).

Cut roll into slices to serve  (Discard the ugly end slices).

Makes 10 – 12 servings.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. Sorry I am so late with this recipe, I should have posted it the week before Halloween…!

16 Oct 2010 Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

My new favorite pumpkin recipe, and my new favorite muffin recipe, just in time for your fall weekend baking:  Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin!  Am I your favorite food blogger, or what?!  This recipe is all over the food blogs right now, and I am a bit late-for-the-train in posting it (one of the casualties of the lost camera saga).

This muffin has been likened to the Starbucks Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins.  I think that’s a fair comparison, but I like this recipe better, for two reasons.  One,  I think the Starbucks muffin cook is heavy handed with the cloves, this recipe has no cloves, and that’s a very good thing.   Two, you can make two dozen of these muffins for the cost of buying just two muffins from Starbucks. Yes.  I said twenty-four muffins.

Unfortunately this recipe makes 24 muffins.  Not that I am opposed to 24 muffins, but I hardly ever need or want that many.  I try to have each muffin recipe make 12 muffins, which is usually more than enough for a home cook. I tried to cut this recipe in half and I tried to cut it down to two-thirds.  Neither attempt worked.  The muffins were dry.  The twenty-four muffin recipe is not dry, so you’ll just have to make them all.  Invite the neighborhood over!  Drop some off at a friend’s house! Have a bake sale!  Give some to the gardener or your child’s teacher! These muffins stay moist for several days.

Start this recipe the night before.  The cream cheese filling needs to sit in the freezer for at least a few hours, and overnight is fine, before baking.  That’s ANOTHER great thing about this recipe. FINALLY, a method that works for inserting a cream cheese layer into a baked goods.  Ohhh, it’s a good day to be stopping by my kitchen!

I have inserted three options for the topping of the muffins.  The fourth option is to not add a topping to the muffin.  These muffins really don’t need a sweet topping. The cream cheese layer, and the muffin itself, are sweet enough.  I found the struesel layer to be just a bit too much.  Imagine me saying that!  Me,  a Sweet Tooth Queen!  I like the idea of sprinkling a few pumpkin seeds on top (the green ones, pepitas), which is what Starbucks does, but I couldn’t find pumpkin seeds the last time I was at the store.  The muffin above has a slight sprinkling of raw sugar on top. I like the little crunch.

So, without any further ado…

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Cream Cheese Filling

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Optional Streusel Topping (see notes above):

½ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup pecans, chopped finely
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Alternate toppings: a sprinkling of green pumpkin seeds (Pepitas) or raw sugar

Pumpkin Muffin Batter:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (or 1 ¼ cups fresh pumpkin puree, drained)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

The night before: Make the cream cheese filling. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, and blend to combine. Form the mixture into a log on a piece of plastic wrap, wrap it, and freeze it overnight, or at least an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 350 ºF. Line two 12-cup standard muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl. In another bowl, lightly beat the pumpkin, eggs, oil and vanilla.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour the pumpkin mixture into the well. Mix with a fork just until moistened.

Remove the cream cheese from the freezer, and divide it into 24 slices. (I usually cut the log into 12 pieces then cut each of those pieces in half)

Evenly divide half of the batter among the muffin cups-about one tablespoon of batter in the bottom of each muffin cup. Place 1 slice of the cream cheese filling in the center of each cup.  Top the cream cheese with another tablespoon of batter.  Cover the cream cheese completely.

Sprinkle top of muffins with pumpkin seeds, raw sugar OR this Pecan Streusel. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, pecans, butter and cinnamon. Sprinkle some of the pecan streusel on top of each muffin.

Place muffins in a preheated oven and bake until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.  Muffins should be served at room temperature.  Hot cream cheese is really not very appetizing.

Happy Fall!  Go on, bake a batch of these, enjoy them with your family, friends and neighbors.  Here’s a picture of my grandson enjoying his.  He loves his Grandma’s muffins <3

14 Oct 2010 Cheese Danish, just like those in the fancy bakery!

My daughter, who shall remain nameless (so I don’t embarrass her, HA!), has a crazy crush on a French exchange student. It’s one exchange student in particular, but there are about thirty others she’s crazy about if this one doesn’t work out.  Her roommates bragged to the French students about my nameless daughter’s cooking skills.  They told the French students she can make cakes, she can make cookies, she can make Rice Krispie treats… Then one of the Frenchmen looked at her and whispered, in a very excited voice, with that wonderful French accent, “Can you make pastries?”  She answered, “Sure!”  Then she flew home (a two hour drive) to learn how to make pastries!  She succeeded, too, she took back with her a large Glazed Fruit Tart, a dozen  Cheese Danish and, being a first generation American teen, a big tray of Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats.  I haven’t heard from her since, but she has been posting on Facebook how very wonderful her life is and how much fun she is having…

Abby (Oops! Blew her cover) found many pastry recipes on line.  She printed out about a dozen, and made this one.  Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.  Winner, winner, winner, winner, winner.  Ina Garten rocks!  I wish I had known how easy these were to make years ago.  I could have wowed so many people!  But never mind, I am going to start wowing them NOW!

These are so easy to make.  Really.  Easy.  And they are beautiful.  And delicious. And impressive.

Abby followed the recipe for the first time, and made  four pastries with one sheet of puff pastry.  We decided the pastries were wonderful, but a bit too big, so she cut smaller squares, and made 8 pastries with the second sheet of puff pastry.  I have left the directions as she originally found them, but feel free to cut the pastry into  smaller squares.  We found the quantity of the filling to be more than adequate, so no need to skimp!

Ina Garten’s Cheese Danish

8 oz. of cream cheese, at room temperature (if you are in a hurry, soften slightly in the MW)
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons Ricotta or Mascarpone cheese (we used Mascarpone)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
grated zest of one lemon
1 box (2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
Sprinkling of raw sugar  (optional)
Sprinkling of powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer,  cream the cream cheese and sugar together.  Reduce the speed to low and stir in (don’t beat or whip) egg yolks, ricotta or mascarpone, vanilla, salt and lemon zest.

Unfold the defrosted puff pastry and roll out, on a lightly floured board, to a 10 x 10 inch square (approximately).  Cut sheet into quarters (or smaller, see note above).

Brush border of each pastry square with egg wash, and then place one tablespoon of filling into the center of each square.  Fold the 2 opposing corners together over the filling.  Squeeze the pasty corners together so they stick. Brush pastry with egg wash.  Sprinkle lightly with raw sugar (if desired)

Place pastries on prepared pan.  Refrigerate pastries on the prepared pan for 15 minutes to re-chill the puff pastry.

Remove pastries from refrigerator and place in a preheated 400° oven for 20 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.  Rotate the pan once during baking time.

Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, just before serving. These are even good the next day!

It’s nice to be back in the kitchen. THANKS for stopping by.  Now I have a new camera, there shouldn’t be any more two week breaks!