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date meyer lemon butter + homemade cream cheese

Homemade cream cheese

 

I am so very, very excited to share this recipe with you guys today. Dates! They are delicious! I think I’ve always known that but hardly ever cooked with them. That’s going to change for sure in the coming months. Man, this date butter is insane. While this baby simmered on the stove I swear it smelled like bacon. Bacon! Now I sorta get why the two are constantly being paired together.

 

dates

 

To add to this crazy good butter, I decided to include meyer lemons for the acid component because: hey I just met you and this is crazy but here’s my number call me maybe? I bought a bag of meyer lemons for the first time a couple weeks ago and fell in love with them hard. Stalkingly obsessed hard. Pretty sure I’m never using regular lemons ever again.

 

meyer lemon

 

The combination of both of these new-found crushes together in one tasty butter has been rocking my world since day one. I want to eat it all by itself in a dark corner of the room. I’m gonna need serious privacy.

Despite the name, this butter doesn’t actually have butter. Kinda funny isn’t it? Maybe it was coined a butter because of how easy it is to spread. Fruit butters are different than jams and jellies in terms of how long you cook them for. I let mine simmer for roughly 45 minutes but you can let it go for even longer. To be honest, I couldn’t wait any longer it smelled so good. I may have torched the roof of my mouth tasting it off the stove.

My obsession for making a fruit butter was born from my previous obsession with Trader Joe’s fig butter. That stuff, my friends, is bomb. I think I finished the entire contents of that jar within a week of opening. I ate it slathered on a bagel with cream cheese. And it was so good. I woke up in the morning excited to eat it. That’s saying something!

Naturally, I had to eat this lovely date meyer lemon butter with cream cheese and bagels too. All in the name of comparative research, course.

 

date meyer lemon butter

 

// date meyer lemon butter 

recipe adapted from bon appétit

makes about 1 cup

 

1 1/3 cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped

2 tablespoons meyer lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup water + 1 cup water, divided in half to add during cooking

 

// In a small sauce pot, combine the dates, meyer lemon juice, honey, and 1/2 cup water. Set to boil and then lower to gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup water once the liquid in the pot evaporates, about 15 minutes into the cooking process. Repeat again in another 15 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup water to the pot. After the water evaporates again, let the dates caramelize slightly in the pot for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently. I let this butter cook for about 45 minutes but you can choose to cook for longer if you want an even more intense flavor. You might have to add more water though.

After this finished cooking, I pressed it through a fine sieve to separate the butter from any extra liquid. You can leave it as is, it’s delicious either way, but I wanted to try it as a thick butter and as a thin sauce. The butter was excellent slathered on anything and the sauce was outrageous drizzled on anything (but made for a more luxurious experience, i think). Both variations are phenomenal. The butter keeps fabulously in a glass container in the fridge for about a week but I seriously doubt it will last that long!

 

date meyer lemon butter

 

I couldn’t stop at just making a homemade fruit butter. I felt compelled to make a homemade cream cheese too. I never quite realized how easy and straight-forward it was to make cheese at home. You pretty much just mix heavy cream or half and half together with a mesophilic culture starter, or in my case, buttermilk (because that was the quickest, most convenient route, and if you know me, that’s pretty much my middle name(s)) and let it sit on the counter for hours. I have to admit that I was doubtful after about 8 hours. The recipe said it would eventually take the form of a yogurt but mine was nowhere near that state. At hour 10 I was almost ready to dump the entire thing and try the mesophilic culture starter route but when I checked it again at hour 12 I was astounded to find that it really did change into the consistency of a yogurt! Science is amazing!

At that point, you transfer the “yogurt” into cheesecloth, wrap it, and let it hang somewhere to drip whey. After another 12 hours my cream cheese was ready! All I had to do was add a smidge of salt and it was ready to go. This cream cheese tasted like none other that I’ve tried. Super creamy and rich and delicious. As simple as this was to make, I am gonna be all about experimenting with crazy flavor combinations. I adore cream cheese.

 

homemade cream cheese

 

// homemade cream cheese, via The Prairie Homestead

Makes 1 1/2 cups

 

1 quart half and half

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Fine cheesecloth

 

// Pour half and half and buttermilk into a glass container and stir together. Cover slightly with a towel and leave on the counter to culture anywhere from 8-12 hours. Mine was ready at exactly 12 hours. It’s ready once it looks like yogurt.

Dump the yogurt onto cheesecloth, wrap it, and tie it. Secure it onto a wooden spoon over a tall pitcher for the whey to drip. I let this drip for about 12 hours but it depends on how thin or thick you want your cream cheese to be. The longer it drips, the tangier the cream cheese will taste. Mine was pretty tangy. Once you’re satisfied with the consistency, scoop the cream cheese into a bowl and season with salt. Pour cream cheese into a glass container and store in the fridge.

 

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Alex - Wow! These look amazing. Can’t wait to try the butter.

Stephanie - Kate, thanks so much! It seriously is so good. I’ve already made a huge dent in the date butter and cream cheese– so very sad!!

Stephanie - Lil, I think you’d LOVE dates! I can imagine you’d create all sorts of delicious crazy goods using them. I want to make cookies and bars and ice cream with them. The possibilities are endless!

Stephanie - Denise, oh my gosh it would be amazing in a tart! I’m definitely planning on buying dates in bulk so I can swap them in for sugar in most of my baking goods. I think they could be interchangeable with bananas in most cases!

thelittleloaf - Wow, that looks and sounds utterly delicious. And homemade cream cheese? Perfection.

Lil @ sweets by sillianah - girlfriend, this is too much goodness in one post! You know what’s crazy, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten dates…but you’ve changed my mind – especially if they smell like bacon! lol… but seriously, I’ve bookmarked quite a few recipes using medjool dates but have yet gotten around to any of them. I need to get on it!

And seriously, homemade cream cheese? I must try this one day!

Denise - Oh, this sounds insanely good. I am with you on using dates beyond a bowl of oatmeal. I have been using them in nut based tart shells as a binding and they are super good. Cannot wait to try out some this yummy butter!

Stephanie - Sara, oh my gosh so you can totally feel me on my fig butter obsession! I want to make so many different kinds now. So much love!

Sara @ Cake Over Steak - Whoa girl. This is awesome. I never even thought about making homemade cream cheese ….and I’m with you on the cream cheese + jam/fruit butter combo on a bagel. AND, that Trader Joe’s fig butter?!??!?! YES. I have some in my fridge that I bought in Philly one time recently … I actually went to TJ’s that time for the main purpose of buying that fig spread after a friend let me have the last of her jar. I will have to try this!

Vanilla bean greek yogurt chips

vanilla bean greek yogurt chips

Do you like froyo?

I should rephrase that: do you LOVE froyo? I LOVE froyo.

There have been times that I’ve craved it so much it consumes me. I find myself daydreaming about it, imagining the sight of it nestled in my paper cup with the most flamboyant of tails. I make crazy flavor combinations in my head, mixing this one with that, tasting, swirling. The hardest part for me, at least initially, is deciding what toppings to sprinkle. It can be overwhelming, can’t it? With all the candies and sauces and fruits and oh my! But funnily enough, I always end up choosing the same two: granola and yogurt chips. That’s it. Out of all 3 million topping varieties and combos to choose from I will always pick them.

So, I’m going to be transparent with you. I made these thinking that they would be similar to the kind that I find at the froyo place– you know, the kind in the bin out in room temperature. Well, when these were all ready to go and frozen and yummy, I tumbled some into granola and left them out for a little while thinking it would be a nice snack for later. Um, a little word of advice: don’t do that. Unless you want little globs of yogurt melted onto your granola. Which I suppose still tastes good but wasn’t at all what I expected! I actually felt silly afterwards, thinking to myself, ‘of course they’re going to melt. you just froze them!’

Oy. I’m really glad I feel safe with you guys in sharing all my kitchen defeats. So while these really can’t be used for mixing into trail mix or baking, they are super fine as a topping for: froyo! ice cream! gelato! sorbet! your hands!

I’ve been sneaking into the freezer to grab a handful every now and again because they really do make tasty icy cold treats. And I hardly feel guilty because they are made from greek yogurt, which has mega amounts of protein (maybe not so much in these minuscule amounts but you catch mah drift) and they are all natural with no artificial nothing and no preservative junk stuff! Isn’t it sad that we have to proclaim that now? I mean good god, how did we ever position ourselves to think eating garbage was normal?!

p.s. don’t mind my ugly weathered old woman hands. they have seen too much iron lifting and hot water. apologies.

 

vanilla bean greek yogurt chips

 

// vanilla bean greek yogurt chips

 

makes about 1 cup yogurt chips

 

1 cup plain 2% greek yogurt (I love Fage)

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons powdered sugar

 

// Grab two medium-sized baking sheets (they have to be able to fit in your freezer) and line with wax paper. Stash in the freezer while you mix up the ingredients.

In a small bowl combine the yogurt, vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Use a spoon to press on the vanilla seeds to make sure they’re well distributed.

Fetch the baking sheets from the freezer. Grab a plastic gallon-sized storage bag and snip a small piece off the corner on the bottom to make a makeshift piping bag. You can also use a real piping bag with tip if you want to make fancier chips. Scoop the yogurt into the bag and squeeze to get most of it towards the cut piece. With as much finesse as you can summon (mine was minimal as you can undoubtedly see), squeeze the yogurt onto the wax-lined baking sheet, making little chips or nibs. The size is ultimately up to you but I wanted them fairly small so I can add them as topping to my ice cream but if you plan on snacking these, they can be larger– they’ll just take a bit longer to freeze. I found that my chips looked neater when I pressed down as I squeezed them and then lifted it up quick to make a tiny tail at the top. Experiment with different techniques though!

 

vanilla bean greek yogurt chips

Once you’ve filled the baking sheets with yogurt chips, stash back into the freezer for about 35-45 minutes. At that point you can scoop them off the wax paper and eat right away or store them in little plastic baggies or tubs in the freezer for later. Depending on the size of these cuties, they will have different melt times. The smallest of mine started to melt pretty quickly at room temperature, if I just ate them by the handful– ahem, I mean fingerful… but they did just fine sprinkled on something cold like ice cream or frozen yogurt (yogurt on yogurt!).

 

vanilla bean greek yogurt chips

xo, steph

Stephanie - Kathryn, I get excited when I see vanilla bean too! Tempted to just buy them in bulk so I can always use them!

Kathryn - Ooh I’m so excited and intrigued to try these! Love those flecks of vanilla bean running through these.

Stephanie - Linda, it was a fine guess that it was coconut, considering I’ve been mesmerized by the stuff for a while now! I want to add it to everything! :) Yep, I balance my froyo out with granola and yogurt chips– both good for you right?? :)

Stephanie - Nicole, um yeah the melting thing was completely unexpected– doh! I just found a recipe for maaaaybe keeping them stable at room temp though. Gonna experiment!

Linda - HA, totally thought they were coconut-flavored when you posted them on Instagram. And yessss, yogurt chips! I always add them to my froyo as well (to balance out all the unhealthy stuff – it’s psychological, heh). I love the idea that you can make them at home Steph! You know the commercial stuff probably contains lots of artificial stuff to keep them stable at room temp. so reserving them for ice cream is a fine idea. :)

P.S. Those vanilla bean flecks are GORGEOUS.

Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps - Ok, this made me laugh out loud — the whole melting thing. Totally something I would do. They look perfect in their frozen state! ;)

Stephanie - Sini, haha thanks! :) They are little munchkins aren’t they?

Sini | my blue&white kitchen - Awwww….look at them, they are so cute!! Will definitely make them.

Stephanie - Raven, yes!! I absolutely LOVE yogurt chips and I wanted to try my hand at making some at home. Super easy and they keep really well in the freezer! :-D

RavieNomNoms - That is such an amazing idea!!! I love it and I gotta try that like SOON

Chickpea patties with smoked paprika and feta cheese + Greek yogurt and cucumber-red onion relish

Chickpea patties with smoked paprika and feta cheese + cucumber-red onion relish and Greek yogurt

If you smush enough ingredients into one patty/cake/fritter it’s bound to be good right? This seems to be my logic, as evidenced by these chipotle shrimp cakes or cod potato cakes. It’s kind of a shame really that this will only be the third version of a savory cake to appear on my blog since I actually tend to make a lot of different varieties for my clients. I’ve made vegetable fritters in the summertime when fresh produce is at it’s all time high. I make black bean cakes year-round. There are salmon patties, and crab cakes, and tuna fritters. I never get tired of them. Why? Because the flavor combinations are endless. Also, they’re super easy! I usually just blitz everything in the food processor and voilá, eats time!

I like hummus. Do you? One look at the ingredients to this thing and you’ll know right off the bat where I got my inspiration from. I even added tiny crumbs of pita chips to the cake itself just to make you proud (!). These chickpea patties are smoky and tangy. They’re crispy and smooth. I ate them by themselves but I wager they’d be delicious slathered with extra homemade hummus between burger buns or pita bread.

On a different note, didya notice the new digs?

inkt

image via imgflip

 

It took me over a day to get the design right and my eyeballs have since perished but hey, who needs sight anyway? I thought I was in the clear after I finalized the look of the blog but then I started fiddling with the permalinks and in the span of a one-button click, my entire website was gone. gone. Just a blank white page sitting there chilling. I freaked out! Luckily my host was able to fix it by uninstalling my plugins. But now when I try to re-install a plugin I get an error, which leaves me spam comment plugin-less and I’ve been getting slammed with spam all.day.long. Oh my god the insanity. Life just isn’t fair.

I’ll just be over here. Deleting comments every twoseconds.

/bangs head on desk

 

Chickpea patties with smoked paprika and feta cheese + greek yogurt and cucumber-red onion relish

 

// Chickpea patties with smoked paprika and feta cheese + Greek yogurt and cucumber-red onion relish

Makes 12 patties

 

For the chickpea patties:

 

25 multigrain pita chips (I really like Stacy’s)

2- 15.5 ounce cans chickpeas, washed and drained well

2 fat cloves garlic

2 tablespoons tahini sesame butter (you can sub in almond or peanut butter but it will change the taste a bit)

1/4 cup feta cheese

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt

1 egg

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

 

Olive oil, for frying

Plain Greek yogurt, for serving

 

// In a food processor, pulse the pita chips to a course crumb. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process until it comes together; not too chunky but not too smooth. Juuust right.

Use an ice cream scoop and portion out the patties and form them in your hands. Stash in the fridge for about 30 minutes. While this chills, make the cucumber-red onion relish.

 

When you’re ready to cook the chickpea patties, pour olive oil onto a fry pan and heat over medium flame. When it shimmers, add the chickpea patties in batches of 4, cooking until crisp and golden on both sides, about 3-4 minutes on one side and then another 2-3 minutes on the other. Set them onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Serve with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and cucumber-red onion relish.

 

Chickpea patties with smoked paprika and feta cheese + greek yogurt and cucumber-red onion relish

 

Cucumber-red onion relish

 

For the cucumber-red onion relish:

 

1/2 english cucumber, sliced thin using a mandolin or very sharp knife (and deft cutting skills!)– for the mandolin I had it set at one notch below 1/8″

1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly into quarter moons

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

A few pinches of Aleppo chili pepper (or any other spicy dried pepper of your choice)

S + P to taste

 

// Combine all ingredients into a small bowl and mix gently with a spoon. Let this sit for a while on the counter to quick pickle and get happy. This keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.

 

Cucumber-red onion relish

Stephanie - Linda, thanks so much! Yes, I’m SO over this hellishly cold (is that a term?) winter. So over. Done! It was beyond thrilling to be out and about the other day in just a sweater– it got up to 50-some degrees, the snow was melting (I could see grass!), I drove with the windows down…and then bam! we get dumped with another 6+ inches of snow. We’ll get over this soon but it just won’t be soon enough!

Linda - LOVE the new look Steph! (were you overtaken by a bout of spring cleaning? UGH, winter, begone) but spam comments are seriously annoying. I hope you figure the problem out.

And I truly envy your clients. These chickpea cakelets look and sound amazing (pita chips?? Too much goodness) and I love the little dabs of yogurt you like to plop on top!

Stephanie - Cynthia, thank you! I’m so relieved it worked (sort of, still getting the kinks out). And I love Mediterranean food– especially that luxuriously pungent garlic sauce…do you know which one I’m talking about? Man, I need to make some of that too!

Stephanie - Nicole, thanks so much! :)

cynthia - Omg omg YUM. These sound so wonderfully savory and satisfying, I loooove. I need to experiment more with Mediterranean food and you’re making me crave it now.

Also, I so. SO feel you on website coding. How can these things be SO infuriating and mysterious?! Oy. But this looks beautiful, Steph — MAJOR kudos to you for making it work in the end!!

Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps - The new sight looks awesome! So pretty and fresh. Love. And I love these patties, I’ll take fritters/cakes/patties any way I can get my hands on them!