Tag Archives: cream cheese

Raspberry lemonade bundt cake

You know what the best thing about rainy days is? A total excuse to stay inside, vegging on the couch, indulging in terrible Netflix marathons (thank you Bitten). But really, when it’s raining and I found out they turned one of my favorite sci-fi books into a tv series, what more can you expect?! Also, in the world according to me, you need at least one of those days a month. At least. There you go, feel free to quote me the next time someone tries to make you feel guilty about a day spent making BFF with your tv and your couch.

And now here with this post, you all are going to think I am just the laziest. I mean, I made a cake with a cake mix! <gasp> And yes, I do know how easy it is to make a cake from scratch (go on, take a gander at that apple & lime cake I made for you a while back, I’ll wait). But let me paint a picture for you…

A girl with a foodie bent rushes into the grocery store to pick up exactly two items. Just two. And rushes is key. After a long day, she wants nothing more than to get home, get dinner on the table, and get outside. Racing through the store on a mission for corn meal, she lands in the baking aisle. And there, brightly festooned with the word SALE is a lemon cake mix. A brightly yellow cake that screams sunshine and summer and oh, it’s on sale, that means it’s good. And it’s so yellow, you can just imagine the burst of brightness that will dance on your tongue when it hits that first tastebud. Yeah, so that’s what went through my mind, and so promptly without a second thought grabbed the mix. And then like so many impulse buys, returned home, only to look disappointedly at the package, and thought, “huh, what am I going to do with that?”

Well, here’s what you do. You make a cake so delicious and moist and light and sweetly tart that it is like a burst of sunshine and summer in your mouth. So yes, you know what? Sometimes it is ok to make a cake with a mix.


Raspberry lemonade bundt cake from thePenandthePan

Raspberry lemonade bundt cake

Adapted from the Quick Fixes with Cake Mixes cookbook

1 lemon cake mix
4 eggs
½ cup milk
¼ cup oil
½ cup sugar
1 – 8 oz package of cream cheese
juice of one lemon
1 ½ cups fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon flour

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour one large or three medium bundt pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, eggs, milk, oil, and sugar on low. Add cream cheese and lemon juice and increase speed to medium, beating 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the berries with flour until well coated. Gently fold berries into mixed batter by hand. Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Bake for 50-55 minutes for a large bundt pan or 40-45 for smaller.

Cool cakes before removing from pan. Turn cakes out onto platter and dust with powdered sugar. Store uneaten (yeah, right!) cake in refrigerator.


Blueberry lemon cream pie

Ooof. We are in the midst of some serious muck here guys. I mean I am up to my ears in mud, some courtesy of Mother Nature and some of my very own creation. After a gorgeous thaw over Easter weekend, we were treated to some hardcore (but gorgeous) snow.


Crazy snow

Said snow melted right quick, helped along by a lot of sunshine and a little rain. And that left us with the biggest mud puddle you ever did have the pleasure of mucking through. It made the yard chores on our list that much more difficult, but a heck of a lot of sloppy fun.

Himself and I managed to make our own little mud pies too. I’ve had my seeds and my garden plan laid out for ages, but with one thing and another only got around to planting now. Sigh. I’m at least three weeks behind where I wanted to be, but at least there was some fun and a lot of cooking crammed into those weeks. But, just look at these. Each of those wee little blocks holds a seed that I’m going to turn into a delicious recipe. No presh, though, right?!


I guarantee there’s no mud in this delicious, fluffy pie I want to share with you. I whipped (literally) this pie up for G’ma’s birthday and it was a huge hit! I can’t wait to test it out with other fruits too! A little orange raspberry just may be in Himself’s future. In fact, I’m not sure who loved this pie more, Himself or G’ma. It makes me pretty sure you’re going to adore it too!


Blueberry lemon cream pie

Blueberry lemon cream pie

Adapted from luckyleaf.com

1 graham cracker crust
1-8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup sugar
1-21 oz. can blueberry pie filling
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
Lemon zest curls

In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, lemon juice, and sugar until smooth. Mix in pie filling by hand, being careful not to break the berries. Gently fold in whipped topping.

Spoon blueberry mixture into pie crust. Top with lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Apple & lime cake

Oooof. Yup, that about sums up my week thus far. But today marks a rad turning point. This week has been filled with so much awesome (and one less than awesome), but I have a deep, dark secret. Someone might have a wee little (hah!) issue with anxiety.

Who knows what the turning point was, but after feeling like I needed to hide in a hole all week, suddenly today, there was just this sudden moment where I felt GREAT! It surely doesn’t hurt that all week people have been telling me how awesome I am, and admiring my skillz.

All the skillz except walking, that is. Someone may have ended up first on her behind and then secondly in the ER. I’m fine, but I took a tumble and landed on my wrist. Having broken the same wrist almost two years ago to the day (!!!), when it started to swell and bruise in that old familiar way, I hightailed it to the ER. A couple of x-rays and a few tears later, I just have a nasty sprain.

And not to get all gushy on you guys here, but Himself is pretty much the best ever. Despite being one-handed, my to-do list has been long enough for two people. He’s stepped up to the plate and helped with nearly each and every one. So here’s his reward. A delicious apple & lime cake. Made in adorable bundt pans.

Who doesn’t heart things in a miniature shape? I swear it totally makes it taste better. There’s no other excuse for why Himself and I both inhaled our respective pieces. Oh, it could also be the amazing flavor combination of apple and lime. So, if you’re not in possession of adorable, miniature bundt pans, you can still savor the deliciousness.


Apple lime cake

Apple & lime cake

Adapted from the Perfect Baking cookbook

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
5 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
⅔ cup applesauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup powdered sugar
1 – 2 tablespoons lime juice
½ – ¾ teaspoon lime rind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a deep 7-inch round cake pan or two 6-cup bundt pans.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add applesauce, lime juice, and egg, and mix thoroughly. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Spoon batter into prepared pans and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake cool slightly before turning out onto baking rack to cool completely.

When cake has cooled completely, prepare glaze. Adjust lime juice and rind to your preferred intensity of lime flavor. Mix all ingredients together and drizzle over top of cake.

Tomato, bacon, and cream cheese cups

Well, kids we’ve reached that point of cabin fever. Stay tuned to see, will Jessica lose her marbles and dive headfirst into a snowy creek? Will Himself go stir crazy and run screaming through the woods? Only time will tell. So far, we’ve managed to not snipe at each other too terribly, though it may be a near thing, as we run low on things to keep us entertained…

No matter where I am, come the end of January, I am thoroughly sick of winter. Course, every year, February rolls around with stuff to do, like Himself’s birthday and the dreaded V-day with it’s expectations of grandeur, and then before I know it, March is in sight. March may still be snowy and cold, but you can feel that sun powering up as the days get longer and longer.

What’s different, up here is not the cold. C’mon guys, cold is cold. But there’s this gorgeous stretch of woods that my legs just ache to walk through, wildlife that begs to be photographed, and all the chores that come along with a neglected property. Seeing that day after day, and we’re just itching to get out and enjoy it. You can just bet that the minute that thermometer creeps above freezing, or heck even above 20, we’re racing to get the outdoor gear on and head OUTSIDE!

You know what else February brings? Of course you do! It’s the Super Bowl. Now it’s been a good long while since a favorite team of mine made it to the big game, but football is football. Not to mention all the goodies that go along with the big game. These wee tomato cups are just the thing to serve. Tomato, bacon, a hint of pesto and cheese all wrapped up in a crispy shell, YUM! Bonus points: this appetizer can be prepped ahead of time. Just prepare the wonton wrappers and the stuffing. Then when all your guests arrive, fill the cups, pop them in the oven, and then sit back and enjoy the accolades.


Tomato Cups

Tomato bacon cream cheese cups

24 wonton wrappers (found in the produce section)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I opted for tomato & basil, but plain or chive & onion would also work well)
2 teaspoons pesto
¼ cup chopped red onion
⅓ cup crumbled bacon or bacon bits
½ – 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
½ cup mozzarella cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate wonton wrappers and place in ungreased mini muffin to create a cup. Bake unfilled wrappers for 5 minutes.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, pesto, red onion, bacon, and jalapeno, if desired. Mix well. Add cheeses and stir until combined. Fill baked wonton wrappers ¾ full cream cheese mixture. Bake filled wontons at 350 degrees for 7 – 10 minutes. Remove from oven and top with halved cherry tomatoes immediately. Let cool slightly before serving.

Makes 24 cream cheese cups.

Note: the wontons and filling can be prepared ahead of time. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Do not fill wonton wrappers until ready to bake.

Jalapeno cream cheese bread

I know, I know everyone is sick of hearing about the weather, so I’ll only mention this is passing. Remember how I was the most excited because there was supposed to be a pretty strong meteor shower on my birthday? Well, we missed it. Between the absolute cold and the cloudy skies, there was no chance to brave the elements with a camera. But tonight, we’re hoping for better news. There’s a strong magnetic storm watch forecasted, which means my very favorites – the Northern Lights! Keep your fingers crossed for me, my little chickadees. While, it’s still supposed to be co-o-old, Himself and I are willing to venture outside in this case.

And speaking of mention things here, a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned resolutions. While I’m not quite ready to conquer my resolution of mastering pie crusts, I am ready to make some sense of my recipe mess. I have a habit, learned from my mom, of clipping tasty recipes and setting them aside to deal with later. Recipes from the taste section, from food magazines, from newsletters, and most recently from our local food co-op, they’ve all found their way into a cupboard or drawer only to languish there awaiting some sort of organization. I even have a pile of my mom’s clippings. Le sigh. Imagine if you will, those old cartoons where someone would open a stuffed full closet only to find themselves up to their eyeballs in clutter. Yup, that’s me, awash in a sea of recipes.

If ever you came to my house, you’d be pretty impressed at the tidiness (or diagnosing me with OCD). Except when it comes to these dang recipes. Well folks, that organization is going to start now. I don’t expect it to be done anytime soon. I mean, last year’s organization goal was to get my families pictures scanned, organized, and burned to DVDs for the rest of the fam. I really pushed it with that one, finishing on January 1. But I’m still riding high on how good it felt to get that project done, so there’s hope (and such terrible weather, I hardly want to venture out of doors…).

Now this cheese bread recipe is one of the aforementioned clippings. Don’t let this one languish in your cupboards, you need to be making this now. It combines two of my very favoritest things – jalapeno cream cheese poppers and bread. If you happened to be a big fan of football (I remain sorely disappointed in the sport this season, due to a certain team’s dismal performance), this is the perfect dish to serve. If you plan on bringing this to someone else’s place for the big event, simply top the bread and wrap in foil for transporting, then finish it off in their oven. Now, this makes a huge serving of appetizers, so you could also portion out the topping and only bake a reasonable amount


Jalapeno cream cheese bread

Jalapeno cream cheese bread

Adapted from Northern Star Foods Co-Op recipe collection

1 loaf french bread, cut in half lengthwise
1 -8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 whole jalapeno, seeded and diced
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons diced green chilies
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons taco seasoning (I’m still recommending Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming)
2 cups shredded cheese, cheddar or a Mexican blend will work well

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the bread on a baking sheet, with the cut side up.

In a bowl, mix together cream cheese, jalapeno, onion, chilies, mayonnaise and taco seasoning, until smooth. Mix in shredded cheese. Divide mixture in half and spread over each side of the bread.

Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned on the edges. Turn on broiler, keeping an eye on the bread, until cheese mixture bubbles. Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Crack buns

So, are you freaking out about your New Year’s Resolutions yet? No, I don’t mean the ones you plan on mastering, nope, think way back to the dark days of last winter, when you resolved to somehow, in someway be a better you. Ugh, right?

This year, I’ve actually given myself permission not to freak out about those resolutions. Even though I made all the resolutions, including fun stuff, like promising to go camping and to see more movies in the theater, I only hit about half of them. And I didn’t even come close to my food resolution. “Food resolution?” you ask. Yup, each year I try to set a goal of becoming better at something in the kitchen. The year before was mastering homemade bread (Done and DONE!), but this year was supposed to be pie crust. Um, nope, not one homemade crust appeared on my table, counter, windowsill, whatever.

But you know what? This is the first year where I don’t feel bad. Nope, I made one big ol drastic change, and I think we’re doing pretty well at it. Now, before you start thinking, “Ugh, who does this little Pollyanna think she is?!” Don’t worry, it’s not like I given self permission for this kind of thing all the time. Oh, no. You should know, this is a pretty big thing for me. I might be a wee bit of a list-making control freak. Might. So, not completing all the things and excelling at all the resolutions would normally leave me shuddering in a corner, wracked with guilt (over goals I set myself, yes, I see that too). But this year, I’m just going to clean up that pesky to-do list, and call it good. Don’t worry, some of those big things on my to-do list have been there so long, they might as well be resolutions.

You know what should be on your to-do list? Crack buns. Mmmmm, glorious, warm, gooey crack buns. So called because you will never get enough of them. This is a recipe in the loosest sense of the word. Essentially, you’re just taking your favorite bread dough and stuffing it full of goodness. My recipe has gone through a number of iterations, but it all comes back to my friend, Amy. After tasting these wee buns on a vacation she promptly came home and created her own recipe. Ever since then, this fresh bread with a cream cheese center has been on all our holiday tables.

The recipe calls for your favorite bread dough recipe, use whatever your heart desires. This mini honeycomb bun recipe from Stephanie at Girl Versus Dough is my new go-to bun recipe. It’s like a brioche, dense and delicious, and really stands up to the filling. Bonus points, it’s not an overly sticky dough, and so makes it super easy to fill. But, I tell you a secret, my little chickadees. When I first began making these buns, I used a breadmaker! Seriously, if you’re not comfortable making breads, the breadmaker is the way to go. Just set it to a dough setting, once mixed and risen, fill the buns as directed below.

Because this dough was originally sweet , I did modify it slightly, subbing olive oil for vanilla and adding ½ teaspoon of garlic powder. Now, when it comes to filling, the sky’s the limit. Plain old cream cheese is delicious, but I just can’t leave well enough alone. When last I made these, I mixed the plain cream cheese with chopped black and green olives. I’ve also been known to use chive and onion or spinach and artichoke cream cheese.


Crack buns

Crack buns

Favorite bread dough recipe
8 ounce package of spreadable cream cheese in your favorite flavor

Prepare bread dough as directed. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Pat out pieces of dough in your hand. Using a smallish spoon spread a good amount of cream cheese in the middle. Wrap and twist dough around cream cheese, sealing edges. Place in greased mini muffin tins. See image below, but try not to notice just how odd my hands look in this photo.

Crack buns assembly

Loosely cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise a second time, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving, that cream cheese is HOT.

If your dough is sticky, rub hands generously with olive oil before portioning and stuffing dough. You will also want to coat the plastic wrap with cooking spray for the second rise.

To reheat buns, place in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. If reheating in the microwave, use caution, the cream cheese will heat far more quickly than the bun outside.

Potato soup with a southwest kick

It’s been cold, cold, cold, cold,cold here. You know how I said “so cold, my glasses didn’t just fog up, they iced up?” Well, that’s still happening. Luckily, we have a cozy little outpost amidst this blustery, cold weather. And despite the cold, the sun’s been a-shining. So like the rulers of this house, aka the cats, I’m pretty happy in my warm little patch of sunshine. And then once the sun goes down, we just move on over in front of the fireplace. I’m also pretty lucky in that if it’s cold, I don’t really have to go anywhere. Or get out from under a warm blanket…one of the joys of working from home in the winter.

I know some of you are probably looking for more night time sky pictures, and I have to say I am too. Nature, get on that thing! Actually, there’s supposed to be a meteor shower next week. Even though the moon will be quite bright, I’m hoping since we have exactly zero light pollution (provided we turn off the house lights), we’ll get to see a shooting star or two. Fingers crossed we not only get to see them, but capture some on film, right?! And, we should be in for a veritable heat wave next week. Temperatures in the teens!

It’s not just the north woods that have been mighty chilly these days. Seems like everyone I know is complaining about the cold. So let’s make soup!

This soup finds its roots in a Taste of Home recipe, but morphed based on what was present in the fridge at the time (yup, my reluctance to leave the house surfaces again). What I love about this soup is how smooth and thick it is. Pureeing some of the potatoes with the cream cheese makes it nice and thick and oh so tasty without having to make a roux. However, and this is important (she says from experience), be sure to allow the hot air to escape while blending the soup. You want this in your tummy, not on the walls!

There’s a lot of tang to the recipe, so if that’s not your thing, cut back on the lime. If it is your thing, you can bring that tang to the next level with some cilantro cream (YUM!). This soup can be dressed up with a few hot peppers too, to really warm you up from the inside.


Potato soup southwestern style

Potato soup southwestern style
Adapted from Taste of Home’s Roasted Pepper Potato Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 Tablespoon hot sauce
3 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1 package (32 oz) vegetable broth
2 Tbsp cilantro
Juice of half a lime
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, cubed
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies

In a medium sauce pan, saute onions in olive oil just until translucent. Add garlic, hot sauce, and seasoning and saute two minutes more. Add potatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add cilantro and lime.

Place cream cheese in a blender and add two cups of soup. Blend until smooth. Blend in stages, allowing hot air to escape.

Return to soup and cream cheese mix to pan. Add corn and chilies. Heat through.

Serve garnished with cilantro cream and sliced avocado.

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