Showing posts with label cream cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cream cheese. Show all posts

Friday, September 26, 2014


by Sheila Connolly

My new toy!
I warned you that the new old apple peeler was coming, and here it is! I bought this at Brimfield, just because I really wanted to see how it worked. It may or may not be a true antique: there’s a company that bought up the old molds and started manufacturing it again (and asking a ridiculous price, far more than I paid for mine). The claims for it are glowing, of course, and I wanted to see if they were true.

Re the apples I used here: it’s harvest season. My tiny orchard is producing apples! Some the squirrels steal. Others rot before I can pick them (because I don’t use any chemicals on them). They ripen at different times. As a result I find myself harvesting them one at a time, which means that it takes a while to collect enough for a recipe. This time I supplemented them with the Paula Reds I bought on the Massachusetts Turnpike. The ones from my orchard, you may notice, included the last of the Pink Pearls, which have pink flesh.

The Pink Pearls are in front, and yes,
they've already been peeled

Back to the peeler. First you have to clamp it to a work surface. But then all you have to do is impale the apple on the three-prong thingy and turn the crank. The blade moves around the apple, removing a thin strip of peel (all the way to the ends!), and when it’s done another part pushes the apple off the prongy-thingy. No fuss, no muss. (The only warning is that you have to use crisp fresh apples.) No waste, either. I love it! I was so excited that I peeled more apples than I needed. How often does a gadget do exactly what it claims to do, and does it well?

Oh, right, now to use all those apples I peeled. This recipe lies somewhere between bar cookies and apple crisp. I made it thick, using a 9” square pan (another vintage find). I think if I had used a larger pan, the results would have been more bar-like, but the cream cheese filling might have gotten lost along the way.

Apple Walnut Cream Cheese Bars

Crust and topping:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup (one stick) salted butter
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter (use a pastry blender, your fingers, or a food processor) until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Set aside 2 cups of the mixture (for the topping), and press the rest into an ungreased pan (the size will depend on the thickness you want).


1 8-oz. package of cream cheese, softened
2 Tblsp whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg (at room temperature), lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

4 cups apples, cored and coarsely chopped (you may use any number of varieties, although cooking time may vary based on the apple type). Try to find a variety that doesn’t turn to mush when cooked.

Beat the cream cheese and milk with an electric mixer until they are well blended. Stir in the sugar, egg and vanilla and blend. Pour over the bottom crust in the pan.

Spread the chopped apples over the cream cheese mixture. Then sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the apples are tender (poke one with a sharp knife to check—if not done, bake a little longer) and the top is browned. Cool slightly before cutting into squares.

My husband and I ate the whole thing (not all at once!), and it held up well. 

And now for the BSP: This week I released Seeing the Dead, a sequel to last year's Relatively Dead, which was a New York Times ebook bestseller. I never planned to write this series, but after Relatively Dead I found I wanted to know what came next for Abby and Ned. And there will probably be a third one next year (I'll give you one clue: witches!).

Available in all ebook formats I've ever heard of, including Amazon and Nook.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My New Favorite Remedy for a Snack Attack by Cleo Coyle via Nurse Judy Mac

I was shocked (yes, shocked) 
at how much I enjoyed today’s recipe...

While many of you may have heard of the intriguing food known as Pepper Jelly, it was new to me. I truly didn't think I would like it. But once I sampled this beguiling condiment, spooned prettily over a block of cream cheese and served on crackers and slices of apples, I was sold. I absolutely flipped for it. 

This recipe is not mine, but comes from a follower of this blog: Judy McIntosh, aka "Nurse Judy Mac," which is what her patients call her. (She went back to Purdue at age 32 for her nursing degree and returned for her Master's at age 52.) 

Last fall, Judy shared her recipe for pico de gallo, which beat the de gallo out of my own (and every other salsa I’d ever tasted). It was so good I wanted to eat it with a spoon, but I use tortilla chips for one of the best Rx to a snack attack there is. 

To download Nurse Judy’s BEST EVER HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here

To read the full blog post from last year, click here.

As for Judy’s Pepper Jelly recipe, scroll on down and you, too, will soon be eating with joy!

~ Cleo

Judy Mac's
Sweet Pepper Jelly

Pepper Jelly is a mixture of sweetness and heat. Judy's version is mostly sweet. Like her salsa, she prefers to use sweet peppers rather than hot, and that's fine with me. It's amazing spooned over cream cheese and served with crackers and apple slices.
Cleo Coyle, whose partner in 
crime writing is her husband,
is the author of The

Judy's Pepper Jelly is also fantastic as a dipping sauce for egg rolls and can be used as a substitute for sweet-and-sour sauce in Sweet and Sour Chicken. Thanks again to Judy for sharing her recipe with all of us...  

~ Cleo


To download this recipe in a free PDF document that you can print, save, or share click here


4 cups of chopped bell peppers
   (*See "Heat Note" below)  
  About 8 medium peppers - 2
 each green, red, yellow, and orange

1 large sweet onion (optional)

1 cup apple cider vinegar 

5 cups granulated white sugar

1 package of Sure-Jell pectin

*Heat Note: If you prefer "hot" pepper jelly to "sweet" pepper jelly, simply add 4 jalapeno peppers to the mix of bell peppers.

Note: This recipe makes about 1-1/2 quarts. For best results, do not try to double this recipe. Make 2 batches instead.


Step 1 - Core, seed, and coarsely chop the peppers. If using an onion, coarsely chop it, as well.

Step 2 - Pulse the peppers (and onion, if using) in a food processor until finely chopped. WARNING: Do not process too long or you’ll end up with pepper soup!

Now measure out 4 cups from the recipe. (Be sure to measure the correct amount or the jelly will not set properly.) 

Step 3 - Mix the peppers and the 1 cup of apple cider vinegar together in a large pot (6-8 quart size). Add 1 package of Sure-Jell pectin and mix thoroughly. Heat the mixture on high heat until it comes to a full rolling boil (that’s a boil that does not stop boiling when stirred). 

Now add the sugar and return the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute (that’s all, just 1 minute). Take the pot off the heat and skim off any foam floating on top and bottle the jelly. 

TIP: Place this foam into a bowl and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This will give you an early test of what your jam will taste like.

Now it's time to can your pepper jelly... 

Start with sterilized canning-quality (Mason) jars. Fill up to about 1/4-inch from the top of the jar, wipe the edge clean of any jelly, put new (sterilized) canning jar lids and rings in place and finger tighten the ring. Allow to cool and then place in the refrigerator.

As the pepper jelly chills, the jars will seal and stay "canned" until the seal is broken and the lid is removed. To check the seal, simply touch the center of the Mason jar lid. It should be flat and quiet and not "loudly" bounce in any way, which means the center button has not "popped" and the can is sealed. 

Pepper jelly can take up to 2 weeks to fully gel so don’t panic if it looks runny at first. It won’t hard set like fruit jam, it will remain pourable.

The best way to enjoy this jelly is to spoon it over a block of cream cheese and eat with crackers. Club crackers or Ritz are delicious, and Judy says she's also partial to Blue Diamond Pecan crackers.   

Judy McIntosh with her husband, John

About Judy in her own words...

"Born in Arkansas with a Mamaw that could cook an old shoe and make it taste wonderful! Learned to cook early out of necessity because the cooking gene skipped my mom. She could paint, sing, sew, quilt, and swing a hammer with the best but she just could NOT cook! I went to Purdue University to become a veterinarian and met a dark haired young man under a piece of mistletoe at a Christmas party. Our first kiss was 30 minutes long! So, of course, we eloped, two and one half months later, over Spring Break, 38-1/2 years ago. (That first kiss is why we always have mistletoe up at Christmas!) 

Fast forward three kids, lots of cooking, growing gardens, going back to Purdue at age 32 for nursing, cooking, working, back to school for Master's at age 52, two granddaughters, more cooking, more working, and here I am." ~ Judy 

Eat with joy! 
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

"I discovered Coffeehouse Mysteries with On What Grounds in the fall of 2003 and fell in love. A book based on the love of coffee! I inhaled the first book and began buying (gasp) whole bean coffee and grinding the beans and discovering what fantastic coffee tasted like . . . I've passed the books to my daughter and my mother, taken fabulous new coffees to work to educate the taste buds of night shift nurses who had become used to drinking coffee that had the smell and consistency of old tar. Along the way I have converted a lot of nurses to what REAL coffee tastes like . . . And I still wait impatiently for the next new Coffeehouse Mystery so I can roam the streets of New York and learn to love new coffees and new recipes." 

~ Judy McIntosh

Thanks, again, Nurse Judy. 
May you eat (and read) with joy!
~ Cleo

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cream Cheese Lemon Bars

by Sheila Connolly

You knew the healthy recipes wouldn't last, right?  The butter and sugar are back, but it's dessert—indulge yourself!

There are lots of recipes for lemon bars.  In our household we often make the one that my daughter brought home from middle school. (And after the treacle slice recipe a few weeks ago, I'm looking for a good use for most of a jar of lemon curd—suggestions welcome!)  This recipe is a little different.

Cream Cheese Lemon Bars

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9" square pan.


1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped walnuts (I like mine finely chopped, but you can do what you want)
½ cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter

Beat together the flour, nuts, sugar and butter.  Press half of it in the cake pan and bake for 10-15 minutes until it is lightly browned.  Remove the pan from the oven.


Grated rind and juice of one small lemon (note:  My market happened to have Meyer Lemons this past week, so I bought a few—I really want to encourage them to branch out.  Meyer Lemons have a slightly different flavor than other lemons, and a more vivid outer rind.)

1 cup cream cheese (not the fat-free kind)

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tblsp whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

Beat together, first, the lemon rind, lemon juice, cream cheese and sugar (a hand or stand mixer works best).  Then beat in the milk, vanilla and egg.

Spoon the mixture over the baked bottom crust and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the rest of the crust/topping over the top.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the top is golden.  Cool on a wire rack, then chill.

Cut into bars.

I'll confess, these are a little hard to get out of the pan.  Currently I'm coveting a baking pan I saw in Ireland last year:  square, about 3" deep, with a removable bottom.  It would be perfect for this.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brown Sugar Banana Coffee Cake

By: Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames

I was lucky enough to have a vacation last week. My husband and I had planned it for quite a while. It was great. I sat by the ocean (with lots of sunblock and under an much for the days when we didn't know better than to roast in the sun). I listened to the roar of the water, the twitter of birds, and island music. I read. I walked, I swam, I breathed. You remember how to do that, right?

In/out, repeat...

Sometimes in this busy world we forget. 

Fabulous cheese & wine shop 

Hawaiian Goose - Nene, very tame

The view on a morning walk

Anyway, I'm not back two days and I'm already having to remind myself to breathe. Why? I have deadlines...the second of A COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERY is due at the end of the week. Title: INHERIT THE WORD. For those of you trying to follow how publishing works schedule-wise, that means the book is turned in a year in advance. This book won't come out until next March. The moment I turn that in, I'll get the final-final edits for the first in the series, FINAL SENTENCE.


When those are turned in, I'll be working on another book and the outline for the third in the Cookbook Nook series.


I don't know about you, but when work and deadlines come at me fast and furious, I need sweets. There's just something about a good coffee cake and a cup of coffee that puts me at ease. I know, I should probably be focusing on fruit, and I do. I have that for breakfast and an afternoon snack, but the mid-morning pick-me-up I crave is coffee cake. I hope you'll enjoy this version. It's something I dreamed up because it has all the basics I love in a coffee cake, mixed together.

Today, take a mini-vacation. Find the time. To breathe. To laugh. To listen to the wind and the birds (if there are any around).

Regular or gluten-free


2 cups regular or Gluten-Free Baking and Pancake Mix {I used Bisquick}
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or vanillin
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, large
1 cup cream cheese
1 tsp. cider vinegar


1/2 cup brown sugar
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon


Brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the filling ingredients and set aside.

For the batter:  Mix melted butter and sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs and beat on low.  Still beating on low, add cream cheese and vinegar.  Then add the baking mix until thoroughly mixed.

Spoon half of the batter into a greased 8” or 9” square pan.  Layer all of the filling on top of that.  Spread the rest of the batter over the filling.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. When inserted, a toothpick should come out clean. 

When cool, remove the cake from the pan and sprinkle with a generous amount of brown sugar. 

Serve warm or room temperature, plain or with whipped cream.

* * * * 

You can learn more about me, Daryl by clicking this LINK. "Like" my page on Facebook and "follow" me on TwitterAnd if you haven't done so, sign up for the mailing list
 so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests! Also, you probably know by now about my alter ego, Avery Aames. Chat with Avery on Facebook and Twitter.