Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shmears For Everyone!

If you could only have one food for the rest of your life….what would it be?  Hands down, no question….mine would be cheese.  Any kind of cheese.  Just think of how versatile cheese is.  True, I guess my diet would be lacking in vitamins and nutrients, but my calcium would be off the charts!  I think my favorite cheese is cream cheese.  I think cream cheese is a welcome addition to just about anything.  Especially a bagel.

I love bagels and cream cheese.  I dream about them.  For me, there is no better breakfast.  But you know what?  The bagel is really just a vehicle for the cream cheese.  I couldn’t care less about the bagel.  I just want cream cheese.  Plain is fine….but it is flavored that I really want.  Chive, jalapeno, strawberry, chocolate chip….I could go on all day.

I’ve had to come up with a few recipes of my own because I really can’t go out for bagels and cream cheese every morning.  Well, I suppose I could, but that really isn’t practical, now is it.  Today I am going to show you my three favorite flavored cream cheese, or “shmears” if you prefer that term.

And the best thing about these recipes?  They are all super easy!  Anyone could make these. 

My first recipe is for Sun Dried Tomato Cream Cheese which is my all-time favorite.  When I went to college in Chico, there was a little coffee shop that had bagels and sun dried tomato cream cheese.  It was too die for.  I spent way too much time there.  I probably missed out on a few classes because of my bagel addiction.

The recipe starts with a brick of cream cheese as all my flavored cream cheese recipes do.  It must be softened, so I usually leave it out on the kitchen counter for a while.  I also always use Neufchatel cheese which is the 1/3 less fat kind.  It tastes the same as full fat, so why not save some fat and calories?

I like to use my standing mixer for this, but a hand mixer works just as well.  I throw my softened brick of cream cheese into the bowl of my standing mixer.  I add sun dried tomatoes that come in oil, but I drain the oil off the tomatoes and give them a quick rinse...and a quick chop.  Why do I bother using the ones packed in oil you ask?  I prefer the texture of the tomatoes that come in oil, but the oil itself will make the cream cheese too liquidy.  I also add fresh basil, fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper.  I blend this until smooth, and it’s ready to go.  I like this spread on an onion bagel.  I also always add sliced tomatoes.

This spread is salty, a little bit spicy from the black pepper and all together amazing.  I know there are some other Chico alum that remember this spread from Café Paolo.  You know you want some.

My next spread is a combination of everything you would want if you were getting a bagel from a delicatessen in New York City. Seriously, everything.  I actually call it my “Everything Spread”. 

I start with a softened brick of cream cheese again, but this time I blend it with sliced smoked salmon, red onion, garlic salt, capers, poppy seeds and some lemon juice to round it all out.  I start this one in my food processor since I don’t want to chop all of the ingredients.  I blend this till smooth, but still a bit chunky.  You don’t want to turn the lox into paste.  I like this on an “Everything” bagel, but really, it would be good on a plain bagel since it has so much going on.  And like my last spread….I always top this with sliced tomato.

I love this spread because it is briny, salty, sharp from the onions and super fresh tasting because of the lemon juice.  This is a New York bagel experience in one bite.

My last flavored cream cheese is for all of the sweets lovers out there.  You know who you are.  You get a blueberry bagel, or a pumpkin bagel.  You stick with fruity cream cheese or maybe a cinnamon flavored shmear.  My kids are like this.  For them, I created my Peanut Butter, Honey and Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese.  Most the time I can’t even get them to eat the bagel too.  They lick the cream cheese off like frosting on a cupcake.

I start with my brick of softened cream cheese (I told you I would every time!) in the bowl of my mixer.  I add peanut butter and honey and blend till this is all mixed.  Then, I add mini chocolate chips and give it a little blend as to not break the chips.  I love this on a strawberry bagel or a cinnamon sugar bagel.  I like to top this with sliced bananas or……BACON!  Yum!

I love the saltiness of peanut butter with the sweetness of honey.  And chocolate chips for breakfast?  Come on….everyone loves that!

For those days when you just can’t get your act together to go out and buy bagels….try one of my recipes!  A brick of cream cheese and a bag of bagels, and you really can’t go wrong!

Sun Dried Tomato Cream Cheese

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, rinsed and chopped finely

¼ cup basil leaves, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer, or a mixing bowl if using a hand mixer.  Blend until almost smooth, leaving tomatoes a bit chunky.

Makes 1 heaping cup


“Everything” Cream Cheese

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

3 ounces smoked salmon, roughly chopped

½ cup red onion, roughly chopped

¼ cup capers, drained

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

The juice of one lemon

Place all ingredients in food processor.  Pulse until blended, leaving salmon chunky.

Makes 1 ¼ cups


Peanut Butter, Honey and Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

½ cup creamy peanut butter

2 Tablespoons honey

¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Place cream cheese, peanut butter and honey in bowl of standing mixer of mixing bowl if using a hand mixer.  Blend until completely smooth.  Add chocolate chips.  Blend quickly to mix in chocolate chips.

Makes 1 ½ cups

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