Tag Archives: cream cheese

Cinnamon Buns w/ Cream Cheese Icing

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There’s nothing like waking up to a house filled with the aroma of warm cinnamon. Well, it isn’t a scent this cook wakes up to herself but her family does. And then I get to enjoy it alongside my lucky family. If you love cinnamon, and specifically cinnamon buns, then this recipe from King Arthur Flour is for you. It is rich, spicy and with a smear of cream cheese icing on top, decadent but the perfect weekend morning treat.

If you have night owl tendencies the way I do, even with the two separate dough risings, you can have these warm buns on the table by the time the rest of the family wakes up. Some mornings I do this but on others I prepare the rolls to the point of the second rising the night before. I then cover the buns and let them rise overnight before popping them in the oven in the morning. I also let the icing ingredients set out too; this ensures that they are soft and ready to go when the buns are. So however or whenever you prepare them, enjoy. They are just so yummy.

 

For the dough:
1 cup lukewarm milk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the filling:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the icing:
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup  unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer combine combine the milk, eggs, butter, flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Use a wooden spoon and stir until the mixture becomes cohesive. 
  • Using a dough hook, mix for 4 to 7 minutes at medium speed until the dough is well combined and smooth. 
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to grease all sides, cover the bowl with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 minutes, till it’s nearly doubled in bulk.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and roll it into a 16 x 21-inch rectangle.
  • Spread the dough with the 1/3 cup butter.
  • Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl then sprinkle it evenly over the dough.
  • Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log, and cut it into 12 slices.
  • Place the buns in a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan or two 9 inch round pans.
  • Cover the pan with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let the buns rise until they’re nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Bake the buns in a preheated 400°F oven until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. While the buns are baking, make the icing.
  • To make the icing: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Spread the icing on the buns while they’re warm. 

Yields: 12 large buns

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Spring Vegetable Pasta

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By the time late spring rolls around I’m all about lightening up my dinners and taking advantage of the fresh vegetables that are popping up in the local markets. Pastas are always a go-to meal in my family and they serve as the perfect canvas for highlighting the best vegetables of the season. In this dish adapted from Cooking Light, fresh snap peas, carrots and radishes are the featured vegetables. Many people shy away from radishes thinking their flavor is to pungent but when they are sliced thinly then lightly sauteed in butter, they emerge sweet and tenderly crisp. Topped with lemon zest and a handful of freshly chopped dill, this dish is bright, flavorful and a true spring celebration.

Use the recipe as a suggestion and choose whatever vegetables you prefer. Really, your options are endless so pick a few vegetables that look good, add in the freshly chopped herb of your choice and enjoy!

 

SPRING VEGETABLE PASTA

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup thinly diagonally sliced baby carrots

1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

8 ounces snap peas

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon zest, divided

5 ounces cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 ounce fresh noodles of your choice

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain into a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the carrots and radishes and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt; simmer 4 minutes.
  • Add the snap peas, green onions and half of the lemon zest. Simmer for 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup and vegetables are crisp-tender.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cream cheese, and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
  • Add the cooked noodles to vegetable mixture; toss to coat.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid; adding additional cooking liquid as needed to thin sauce to your liking.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest and dill over pasta mixture.
  • Divide pasta mixture into 4 shallow bowls.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Chocolate Chip Irish Cream Pound Cake

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day here is an easy cake courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine that combines chocolate with Irish Cream liqueur.  This cake is moist and dense and the Irish Cream adds a surprising hint of flavor for those who aren’t expecting it.  The cake is easy to make and I’ve served it as a dessert to end a formal dinner, with a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream on the side, but it is just as good with a cup of coffee for an afternoon snack or as a decadent breakfast treat.
People unfamiliar with Cooking Light might think it is odd that a healthy cooking magazine would include dessert recipes.  Filled with recipes ranging from soups and salads to entrees and yes desserts, this magazine proves that desserts don’t have to be off-limits when eating healthy and with a few simple tweaks of ingredients, can be a part of a healthy diet.  If you haven’t checked out the magazine, do so either in print or on-line.  Every issue is filled with tasty healthier recipes, many of which have become mainstays in my own kitchen.
CHOCOLATE CHIP IRISH CREAM POUND CAKE

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini chips

1 teaspoon cake flour

2 3/4 cups cake flour (about 11 ounces)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened

10 tablespoon butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur

Baking spray with flour

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Combine chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon flour in a small bowl; toss.
  • Lightly spoon 2 3/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Place cream cheese and butter in a bowl; beat with a mixer at high-speed to blend. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla; beat until blended.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition. Beat on high-speed 1 minute.
  • With mixer on low, add flour mixture and liqueur alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Pour batter into a 12-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar over cake.

 

Cheesy Corn Casserole

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Side dishes have never been my forte; I have a tendency to focus on the main dish and the dessert leaving the accompaniments to be an after thought to the meal. But one of my cooking resolutions for 2015 is to change all of that. After all, a simple protein dish can be dressed up when accompanied by a more complex and interesting side dish.

And because we are still in the heart of winter, this is the season for comfort food. Here in Belgium the days are still short and dark and the weather is almost always damp leaving me craving rich foods that both satisfy and warm me up. This creamy corn casserole, adapted from Saveur Magazine, fits the bill to a tee. It is rich, creamy and oh so good.

I baked it in a single casserole dish and served it family style at the table but if you wanted to make the dish a bit more formal, bake it in individual ramekin dishes. Serve it alongside grilled rib eye steaks or tangy bar-b-que chicken and you will have a dinner that is flavorful and satisfying to the whole family.

CHEESY CORN CASSEROLE

4 ounces pancetta, diced

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1/4 cup flour

1 cup milk

4 ounces cream cheese

1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 15.2 ounce can whole kernel corn

1 15.2 ounce can creamed corn

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Cook the pancetta in a large saucepan set over medium heat until it is crisp and brown, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the butter and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the flour and stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute.
  • Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  • Add in the cream cheese, grated cheddar cheese and paprika. Stir and cook until the mixture is smooth.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the corn.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer the mixture to a 3 quart casserole dish and bake until the top is browned and bubbling, about 40 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly before serving.

Serves 6

Cinnamon Buns w/ Cream Cheese Icing

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There’s nothing like waking up to a house filled with the aroma of warm cinnamon. Well, it isn’t a scent this cook wakes up to herself but her family does. And then I get to enjoy it alongside my lucky family. If you love cinnamon, and specifically cinnamon buns, then this recipe from King Arthur Flour is for you. It is rich, spicy and with a smear of cream cheese icing on top, decadent but the perfect weekend morning treat.

If you have night owl tendencies the way I do, even with the two separate dough risings, you can have these warm buns on the table by the time the rest of the family wakes up. Some mornings I do this but on others I prepare the rolls to the point of the second rising the night before. I then cover the buns and let them rise overnight before popping them in the oven in the morning. I also let the icing ingredients set out too; this ensures that they are soft and ready to go when the buns are. So however or whenever you prepare them, enjoy. They are just so yummy.

 

For the dough:
1 cup lukewarm milk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the filling:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the icing:
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup  unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer combine combine the milk, eggs, butter, flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Use a wooden spoon and stir until the mixture becomes cohesive.
  • Using a dough hook, mix for 4 to 7 minutes at medium speed until the dough is well combined and smooth.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to grease all sides, cover the bowl with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 minutes, till it’s nearly doubled in bulk.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and roll it into a 16 x 21-inch rectangle.
  • Spread the dough with the 1/3 cup butter.
  • Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl then sprinkle it evenly over the dough.
  • Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log, and cut it into 12 slices.
  • Place the buns in a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan or two 9 inch round pans.
  • Cover the pan with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let the buns rise until they’re nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Bake the buns in a preheated 400°F oven until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. While the buns are baking, make the icing.
  • To make the icing: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Spread the icing on the buns while they’re warm. 

Yields: 12 large buns

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Beef Tips w/ Mushroom Cream Sauce

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Because there is something inherently sophisticated about the combination of beef and mushrooms, this dish from Cuisine at Home is fancy enough for a dinner party but fast and easy enough to be an end of the week family dinner.  You can serve it over everything from mashed potatoes and orzo to risotto and buttered egg noodles.  Just add a vegetable and dinner is ready.  Enjoy!

BEEF TIPS w/ MUSHROOM CREAM SAUCE

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound beef tenderloin tips, cubed

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

1 pound sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped shallots

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup dry Marsala

1 cup heavy cream

2 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons stone ground mustard

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

  • Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet, set over high heat, until the oil shimmers.
  • Season the beef with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet.  Sear the beef on all sides then transfer the meat to a plate.
  • Add the mushrooms to the same skillet.  Cover and cook over high heat until the mushrooms release their liquid.  Remove the lid from the pan and continue cooking until the mushrooms are brown and the liquid evaporates, 7-9 minutes.
  • Add the shallots and garlic to the skillet and cook until they are fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Deglaze the skillet with the Marsala being sure to scrape up any browned bits that remain on the bottom of the pan.  Cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
  • Reduce the temperature to medium and stir in the cream, cream cheese, and mustard.  Simmer the sauce until it is thickened, 3-5 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and thyme and stir to combine.
  • Return the beef to the pan along with any accumulated juices.  Stir to coat then serve immediately.

Serves 4

Pumpkin Cheesecake

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In preparation for Thanksgiving, I’m showcasing some of my favorite holiday recipes this month.  Some of them are family recipes while others are my own creations but each of them always has a place on my dining room table.  This fall I had the opportunity to be profiled by Albanian Living magazine as a part of their “traditional American Thanksgiving” article.  All of the recipes I’m sharing were a part of that Thanksgiving table.

Pumpkin is the classic fall, and Thanksgiving flavor.  Most people will probably immediately think of pumpkin pie when it comes to Thanksgiving dessert.  Now I love a good pumpkin pie but sometimes it is nice to introduce a bit of variety to the table.  After all, one of my favorite things to do is take classic flavors and ingredients and put a new spin on them.  Hence, this pumpkin cheesecake adapted from Williams-Sonoma.  I like to use gingersnap cookies for the crust but you can substitute an equal amount of graham crackers or other crumbly cookie.  The recipe makes one large cheesecake which is perfect for a dinner table. If you are making these for a buffet table, as I often do, you can make individual cheesecakes which are much easier to serve to a crowd.  Unless you have two pans, you will need to bake them individual cakes in two batches.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

For the crust:

20 small gingersnap cookies

1/3 cup pecans

1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
  • In a food processor, combine the gingersnaps and pecans and process until crumbly. Add the brown sugar and melted butter and pulse for a few seconds to blend.
  • Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared pan. Use your fingers to pat the mixture into the bottom and evenly all the way up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

For the filling:

3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 1/2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon allspice

1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 Teaspoon ground cloves

1 pound cream cheese, softened to room temperature

3 eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

  • In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Using a rubber spatula, occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Gradually add the brown sugar mixture, beating until smooth.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree, beating until smooth.
  • Using the rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the chilled crust and smooth the top.
  • Bake the cheesecake until set or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with whipped cream if desired.
Serves 10 to 12.

Miniature New York Style Cheesecake

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Who doesn’t love a traditional, New York style cheesecake. A good cheesecake is rich, smooth and dense. Those quick, no-bake versions that get passed off a “real” cheesecake give this decadent dessert a bad name.  Growing up my mom made amazing cheesecakes.  While her pumpkin and chocolate with chocolate crumb crust were good, a plain cheesecake, perhaps served with a bit of fresh fruit were by far my favorite.

A good cream cheese is a necessary base for any cheesecake.  Here in Albania it is extremely difficult to find real, American style cheesecake.  Philadelphia brand is available in some supermarkets but the European version is whipped and doesn’t yield a cake of the right consistency.  Block cream cheeses are also available but the ones I have found tend to be too sour, resulting in an unpleasant taste.  So what is a cheesecake lover to do?  Whenever we travel to the Navy Commissary in Naples, Italy, I stock up on my traditional Philadelphia cream cheese.  Frozen, the cream cheese will keep for quite some time.  I simply allow it to defrost in the refrigerator before using it.  Freezing changes the texture of the cheese so you probably wouldn’t want to spread it on a bagel but when baked in a cheesecake, you will never know whether the cheese was fresh or frozen.

This freezing trick is especially handy since I’ve discovered that Europeans love real New York style cream cheese.  I’ve doubled this recipe and made it as a single, large cake in a spring-form pan for dinner parties.  For a recent lunch, when a heavy piece of cake is too much for the middle of the day, I’ve made the cheesecake in miniature form and served it with fresh sliced fruit. Regardless of its shape or size, this cake is always a hit and leaves people scrambling for leftovers.

MINIATURE NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE

For the crust:

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces almond biscotti, crushed

 

For the cheesecake: 
1 1/4 pounds (2 1/2 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
Dash of salt
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • To make the crust, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Brush the bottom and sides of individual cheesecake pans with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter.  
  • In a food processor, crush the biscotti until small crumbs form.  In a medium bowl combine the biscotti crumbs and 4 tablespoons melted butter. Toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
  • Transfer the crumbs to the cheesecake pans and use a small spoon to firmly press the crumbs evenly into the pan bottom.  
  • Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 10 minutes.  
  • Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute.  
  • Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  
  • Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute.  
  • Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute.
  •  Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolk and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.  
  • Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.  
  • Brush the sides of the pans with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter.  
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees.
  • Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 20 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. If you need to continue cooking the cakes, do so in five-minute increments until the cakes are done. 
  • Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

Yields:  24 individual cheesecakes

Mushroom Toasts

Here is an old recipe my mom used to make for holiday appetizers.  The recipe was originally published in The Camden (ME) Herald  on December 29, 1989.   The original recipe is incredibly rich.  I’ve lightened it up a bit by reducing the amount of butter I used by 1/4 of a cup.  I also brushed olive oil on top of the bread instead of the butter (yes more butter) that the original recipe called for. The resulting dish that follows the less is more theory.  A single toast–or two– will suffice since you want to make sure you save room for the main course.

 





 
MUSHROOM TOASTS
 
 
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 Teaspoon paprika
Olive oil
Thinly sliced bread cut into triangles or two-bite sized pieces
1)  Preheat oven to broil.
2)  Saute onions in a 1/2 cup of butter until soft.
Butter and onions
3)  Stir in mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are soft and the liquid has evaporated.
‘shrooms
4)  Stir in mayo, cream cheese, and paprika.  Stir until well blended.
After the mixture has cooked down

5)  Brush toast slices with olive oil. Add 1 teaspoon of mushroom mixture to the top of each piece of
bread.

Oiled bread
6)  Place toasts onto a baking sheet and broil 2-3 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Serve immediately.

Ready for the Thanksgiving table
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