Tag Archives: cream cheese

Cream Cheese Mints

cream-cheese-mints-nancycI love the scent of pine during the holidays. And the taste of peppermint and mint–flavored sweets! This holiday season, I’m enjoying both.

Right now, I’m using the new limited-edition winter scent of ECOS™ Dishmate™ Hypoallergenic ecoswinterpineDish Soap–they have a special holiday scent called Winterpine that they sent me to try, and it smells so fresh and clean!  It’s a great way to add the scent of pine to your kitchen. If you’re not familiar with ECOS™ products, they are earth-friendly and made with plant-derived cleaning agents that clean well and are gentle and safe to use.

And I’m also eating some wonderful minty sweets! These Cream Cheese Mints are kind of addicting. They have a rich, creamy, minty flavor. I like them more than I thought I would, which makes them dangerous for me to have around. So I’ve been sharing them with friends and everyone really likes them. You can make these yummy mints for any special occasion–birthday celebrations, wedding and baby showers, wedding receptions, and, of course, the holidays! I tinted mine red (or I guess you could say pink) and green for Christmas, but you can tint them any color you want. Or don’t use any food coloring and leave them a soft creamy white. This recipe makes about 175 small mints, which is a lot, but you’ll need a lot if you’re making them for holiday parties or any other event!

CREAM CHEESE MINTS by NancyC, adapted from BettyCrocker.com

Makes about 175 small mints

  • 2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (or use 6 ounces from an 8-ounce block)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon mint or peppermint extract
  • Red and green food coloring, optional

In large bowl, cream the softened butter and cream cheese together, then add the confectioner’s sugar, 3 cups at a time, and blend until smooth. Mix in mint extract. The mixture gets pretty thick, so you may need to work everything in with your hands. Or, you can mix all the ingredients with a food processor (use on-and-off pulses until mixture comes together in a ball).

If you’re wanting to tint your dough red and green (or any 2 other colors), divide dough into 2 equal portions and place on wax paper or parchment paper; add a few drops of red food coloring to 1 mound of dough and a few drops of green food coloring to the other mound of dough; work in or “knead” food coloring into each mound until the coloring is evenly tinted to your desired shade. If you’re just making one color, you won’t need to divide the dough, and if you want your mints to be creamy white, you can skip this whole step–just leave out the food coloring.

Roll dough mixture into small balls (I rolled mine into balls that were between 1/2″ and 5/8″ in diameter-I wouldn’t go any larger than that or they will take forever to set–smaller is better!). Place on waxed paper or parchment paper–lined cookie sheets and flatten each ball with a fork. Let stand about 2 hours or until dry (If the mints are still a little soft after a few hours, go ahead and put them in the refrigerator to finish drying). When mints are set and dry, cover with another sheet of wax paper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

These mints are perfect for parties or sweet little food gifts! And this recipe makes plenty of them, so you’ll have extra for yourself! 🙂  Besides pine and mint, what other flavors and scents do you enjoy around the holidays?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

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Texas Trash Warm Bean Dip

ncTxTrshWrmBnDp1nm I made this dip against my better judgement. I say that because it’s so hard to stop eating it–it’s totally addicting if you love creamy, cheesy, southwestern-style dips! You bake this in the oven and when it’s done, you dig in while it’s still warm with your favorite tortilla chips. And you may have to force yourself to stop! I added some chopped green chiles to the recipe I had found at Food.com and made it slightly different. All I can say is, wow–this dip is good! You need to try it sometime!

TEXAS TRASH WARM BEAN DIP by NancyC, adapted from Food.com

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans refried beans
  • 1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray a 9 x 13″ baking pan; set aside. In large bowl, blend softened cream cheese and sour cream. Add in green chiles, then mix in refried beans until combined. Stir in taco seasoning mix, blending everything well, then mix in 1/2 cup each of the Cheddar and Montery Jack cheeses (a total of 1 cup), blending into the mixture well. Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses (you’ll have a total of 3 cups of cheese to sprinkle on top). Bake at 350˚F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve with tortilla chips.

ncTxTrshWmBnDip2nm This dip is great to make for parties, game-watching, or even when you’re watching the Oscars. Are any of your favorite movies or actors and actresses nominated for awards?

Sharing this recipe at Meal Plan Monday,  Weekend PotluckInspire Me Monday, Wow Me Wednesday, Show and Share Tuesday, Full Plate Thursday.

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Zucchini-Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Yay for Friday! It has been such a busy week, I am ready for a slower-paced weekend! And speaking of weekends, I wanted to share a recipe I made last weekend–Zucchini-Banana Bars. These bars are so moist and yummy, just as you would expect, with shredded zucchini and mashed bananas in them! And they’re flavored with some of my favorite fall spices, cinnamon and nutmeg (I added a little more spice than the original recipe called for). Not only that, they’re also topped with a thick and creamy Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s a great dessert for this time of year, or perfect with a cup of coffee or tea when you’re taking a little break. So go ahead and indulge yourself with these Zucchini-Banana Bars! 🙂

ZUCCHINI-BANANA BARS with CREAM CHEESE FROSTING by NancyC, adapted from Shugary Sweets

Makes a 9 x 13 pan, about 12-16 servings

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan; set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla, then stir in mashed bananas and blend everything well.

In medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.

Add flour mixture to butter-sugar-banana mixture in large bowl. Blend well, then fold in zucchini and mix everything well.

Pour batter into prepared 9 x 13″ pan and bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes, or until edges brown and pull from sides.

Let bars cool completely, then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • optional: Half & Half (light cream) if you want a thinner consistency

In medium size bowl, blend softened cream cheese and softened butter. Add in powdered sugar a cup at a time, blending well after each addition (this makes a nice thick frosting–if you prefer a thinner consistency, add some Half & Half, or light cream, starting with 1 Tablespoon; then add a little more if needed). Spread evenly over completely cooled bars, then cut and serve. If serving later, keep in refrigerator until ready to serve. Also refrigerate any bars that are leftover, because of the cream cheese frosting.

These are so good, you just may want to try making them this weekend! 🙂 Will you be having a busy weekend or a relaxing one?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener and Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

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Layered Black Bean Dip

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I have a big weakness for dips, so I try to just make them when I need to bring something to a party or get-together–that way, I have plenty of people to help me eat it! 🙂 This Layered Black Bean Dip is really easy to make, and I like to think that the black beans make it a little healthier! 🙂 I added a little plain Greek yogurt to the original recipe to make the base of the dip a little creamier and also topped it with some green onion slices. If you don’t have any parties coming up soon, this also makes a great snack when you’re watching football or other sports games on TV! This recipe probably serves about 6-8 people; if you’re making it for a larger crowd, you can double the recipe and make it in a 9 x 13″ baking or serving dish.

LAYERED BLACK BEAN DIP by NancyC, adapted from Kraft Foods

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (regular or light), softened
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (10-ounce) can ROTEL Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, well drained
  • 1 cup finely shredded Fiesta-Style Four-Cheese blend
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced (both the white part and stem)

In a medium mixing bowl, blend the softened cream cheese with the yogurt, blending with a hand mixer or by hand until creamy. Spread this mixture onto the bottom of a shallow dish or pie plate. Layer the black beans over the cream cheese mixture; then layer the ROTEL diced tomatoes over the black beans. Top with the shredded cheese and then add the sliced green onion on the very top (you can also add some chopped fresh cilantro on top if you like). Serve with tortilla chips.

Note: If you’d like to add more flavor to your cream cheese/yogurt base, stir in some dry Taco seasoning mix or Ranch Dressing mix to taste.

Dips are great because they’re so easy to make. Do you have a favorite dip recipe?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener,  Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy, and Thursday Favorite Things at Katherine’s Corner.

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Creamy Fruit Dip

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Fresh fruit served with a sweet, creamy dip is great for a summer brunch, snack, or even a light dessert. Here’s an easy fruit dip recipe that’s so simple to make and so good! It’s made with just two ingredients–marshmallow creme and fruit-flavored cream cheese. The marshmallow creme makes the dip really smooth and creamy. Serve with a variety of your favorite fruit!

CREAMY FRUIT DIP by NancyC

Makes about 2 cups of dip

  • 1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 (8-ounce) container fruit-flavored cream cheese, softened (I used strawberry)

Mix the marshmallow creme and fruit-flavored cream cheese together in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy (use a beater for a really creamy dip).  Serve with a variety of your favorite fruit.

Fruit is really good on hot summer days and we’ve been having lots of them where I live! Do you make fruit dips often when you serve fruit?

Linked to Fiesta Friday/Novice Gardener,  Inspire Me Monday/Create with Joy, Show and Share/Coastal Charm, Wow Us Wednesdays/Savvy Southern Style.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread or Dip

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After I made my Pumpkin Hummus, I had half of a can of pumpkin left over. What to do with it? I thought some of it might be good in a cream cheese spread. I was inspired by this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. I wanted to sweeten the spread with honey instead of sugar (although you could use brown sugar instead if you want to have a thicker spread) and made some other changes, and this is what I ended up with!

It’s a lightly sweet and spicy spread with a very creamy texture that’s great on bagels or pumpkin bread for breakfast. Or, use as an appetizer spread on crackers or as a dip for fruit. It’s very soft and creamy when you mix it up so it does need to be refrigerated for at least an hour or two after mixing. Even after it’s refrigerated, it’s more creamy than other cream cheese spreads I’ve made–so if you want a thicker spread, use brown sugar instead of honey and omit the vanilla. If you don’t have all the spices I used in this, you can use 1 1/4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

PUMPKIN SPICE CREAM  CHEESE SPREAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey (or substitute brown sugar for a thicker spread)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In medium bowl, blend all ingredients together until smooth (if using an electric mixer, blend on medium speed). Pour mixture into a small serving bowl, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of spread. Serve on bagels or pumpkin bread for breakfast. Or, serve as an appetizer with crackers or apple and pear slices.

If you like pumpkin-flavored things, you’ll need to try this out! What other ways do you like to use leftover canned pumpkin?

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Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherry Swirl Brownies

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When Valentine’s Day comes around, I think of chocolate and cherries. So when I found this recipe at BettyCrocker.com, I thought it would be the perfect thing to make! The recipe I’m sharing here is a little different, because I made homemade brownies (adapted from the Hershey recipe) instead of using a mix. It really doesn’t take that much longer to do. And I topped these cherry-swirled brownies with a layer of dark chocolate–it never hurts to add more chocolate to a recipe! 🙂

I had some friends sample these and they all loved them and commented on how rich and chocolatey they were. They really are pretty decadent…definitely worthy to make for your Valentine, or for dessert any time of the year!

The cherry cream cheese filling has a mild cherry flavor, which everyone liked, but if you’d like the cherry flavor to be stronger, add a little cherry flavoring or extract, or some extra maraschino cherry juice and cherries (I’ve noted that in the recipe below).

DARK CHOCOLATE–COVERED CHERRY SWIRL BROWNIES by NancyCreative, adapted from Betty Crocker and Hershey’s

Make in an 11 x 7″ brownie pan 

For the brownies:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For cherry cream cheese mixture:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package light or regular cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped well-drained maraschino cherries
  • 1 teaspoon maraschino cherry juice
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon cherry flavoring or extract, or some extra chopped maraschino cherries, for a stronger cherry flavor
  • 1 egg

For dark chocolate layer:

  • 1 (10-ounce) package dark chocolate chips
  • 5 Tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease an 11 x 7″ brownie pan (or a 9″ square baking pan if you don’t have a brownie pan); set aside.

Brownies: Stir together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add eggs and beat well with a spoon. In another medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended; set aside (this batter is pretty thick, FYI).

Cream Cheese Mixture: In medium bowl, beat softened cream cheese, sugar, cherries, cherry juice, and egg with a spoon; set aside.

ncdkChCvChBrn3Spread half the brownie batter in the baking pan. Spread cream cheese mixture over batter. Drop small dollops of remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese mixture, spread slightly with the back of a spoon, and then swirl cream cheese mixture and brownie batter with a knife.

Bake at 350˚F in an 11 x 7″ pan for 30-34 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. If you bake this in a 9 x 9″ pan, your baking time might be a little longer. Let cool 30 to 40 minutes.

When brownies have cooled, top with dark chocolate layer: In microwaveable bowl, heat chocolate chips and butter, uncovered on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until smooth. Spread over brownies. Refrigerate 40 to 50 minutes or until layer sets more, then cut into squares and serve (the dark chocolate layer may not be totally set, but you’ll still be able to cut the brownies into squares). Store covered in refrigerator…

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…that is, if you happen to have any left! 🙂

Have you made, or do you plan on making, any special Valentine treats?

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Salsa Roll-Ups

Salsa Roll-Ups @ NancyC

With the Super Bowl coming up, you may be looking for some ideas on tasty finger foods and appetizers you can serve. This is a great recipe I found at Kraft Foods. I added a little more cheese, some chopped green onions, and fresh cilantro–if you use these, make sure you chop them very finely so the tortillas will roll up nice and smooth (I didn’t chop my green onion stems fine enough, so my filling was a little bumpy, but they tasted good!) These Salsa Roll-Ups are really easy to make and just about everyone loves them! You can make the roll-ups a few hours ahead of time if you want and then cover and refrigerate them until you’re ready to serve. This recipe makes about 20 to 24 roll-ups, so you’ll want to double the recipe if you’re making this for a larger group.

SALSA ROLL-UPS by NancyC, adapted from Kraft Foods

  • 4 oz. (1/2 of  an 8-oz. package) cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons salsa (use your favorite kind–I used a “Lime and Garlic” flavored salsa)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4  (6-inch) flour tortillas (or substitute 3 (8-inch) tortillas–I like to use the spinach, sun-dried tomato, or whole wheat flavors)
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese or Fiesta/Mexican blend cheese
  • Optional: 2 green onion stems, finely chopped (you need to finely chop these so the tortillas will roll up better!)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

In small bowl, mix softened cream cheese and salsa together until well blended. Add chili powder and blend well.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly onto the tortillas. Top each tortilla evenly with shredded cheese, green onion, and cilantro. Roll up tortillas tightly (they’ll cut into slices much better if you roll them tightly). Trim the ends of each rolled tortilla about 1/2″ to 1″, and cut each tortilla into 5 slices for 6″ tortillas, or 8 or 9 slices for 8″ tortillas.

Arrange on a platter and serve. Makes 20 to 24 roll-ups.

Salsa Roll-Ups II @ NancyC

What special snacks are you planning on making for the Super Bowl?
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Sun-Dried Tomato Spread or Dip

I never seem to get tired of eating sun-dried tomatoes, and lately I’ve been craving bagels and cream cheese. So I thought I’d try making a Sun-Dried Tomato Spread. It turned out to be a very savory cream cheese spread with chives, basil, garlic, and some finely shredded Parmesan cheese sprinkled in…yum! It’s a nice, thick spread for bagels and you can also use it as a veggie dip–if you want the consistency to be thinner for the dip, just add a little more plain yogurt to the recipe.

SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPREAD OR DIP by NancyCreative

  • 1 (8-ounce) block of cream cheese, regular, light, or fat-free
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (use 3/4 to 1 cup if you want to make a thinner dip)
  • 3/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives (or substitute green onion stems)
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • additional finely chopped chives or green onions for garnish, optional

In a medium bowl, blend softened cream cheese with mayonnaise and plain Greek yogurt. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, blending well. Then add in the chives, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper, blending all ingredients well.

Scoop mixture into a serving bowl and garnish with chopped chives or green onions. Spread on bagels or serve with fresh veggies and/or crackers.

Other optional add-ins or substitutions: 2 Tablespoons finely chopped green or black olives; 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley; 2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion; 2 Tablespoons finely chopped walnuts or pecans.

This spread tastes great on Asiago cheese bagels, and it’s also really good on Everything bagels.

Are you a sun-dried tomato fan? What’s your favorite way to eat them?

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

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This is the time of year I start getting out my pumpkin recipes, like so many of you. But one thing I hadn’t tried making yet was pumpkin cupcakes. Since I’m a big cupcake fan, I thought it was about time to try this out! So I did some experimenting and was very happy with the results! The cupcakes puff up nicely with a rounded top and taste great with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

If you love pumpkin-flavored goodies, you’ll want to make these! This recipe gives you 22 yummy cupcakes. And you’ll have plenty of frosting if you like frosting your cupcakes generously like I do. If you just want to frost them lightly, you can halve the frosting recipe.

PUMPKIN CUPCAKES WITH CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING by Nancy Creative

Makes 22 cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pure pumpkin puree (not canned pumpkin pie filling)
  • Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin pans (22 cups–you’ll have 2 less in one pan) with paper liners; set aside.

In medium bowl, blend the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, blend canola oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree and blend well. Add the flour mixture into this pumpkin mixture and stir until blended. Pour batter into muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans for about 5 minutes, then remove to completely cool on a wire rack.

You can make the frosting while cupcakes are cooling…

CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Makes enough to generously frost all your cupcakes! Halve the recipe if you want to frost your cupcakes more lightly.

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese (regular or light), softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 7 1/2 to 8 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Blend softened cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add in vanilla and cinnamon, blending everything well. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar a cup at a time, blending mixture after each addition. Frost cupcakes when they have completely cooled. If you’re not serving these soon after frosting them, refrigerate until ready to serve (because of the cream cheese in the frosting).

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Have you made any pumpkin recipes yet? What’s your favorite pumpkin treat?

Linked to Monday Mingle, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Flashback Fridays.