Lemon Cream Cheese Dip & Cheesecake

Lemon Cream Cheese Dip-3364 on Whisk Together Title

Books:  Kiddo is back in school and that means more reading books around his level.  We have been reading “Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin” by Liesl Shurtliff.  The kids are just loving it because the main character’s name refers to a “butt”, so anything butt/fart related is of course instantly amusing to kids.  So far they enjoy it and the action moves fast enough to keep them entertained.

We had started reading “The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death and a Boy Named Eel” by Deborah Hopkins.   What is with this trend of lengthy titles with colons???  Well, anyway, I really really liked this book although it might be best for over age 10.  There is a lot going on in the book including fiction AND non-fiction.  The non-fiction portion discusses Dr. John Snow, a real doctor in 1854 who attended Queen Victoria himself and discovered the cause of the cholera outbreak.  A lot of great information both historically and biologically.  It also makes you appreciate clean water and our current system of water and sewers.  **Spoiler** Over 600 people died simply because a mother cleaned out her baby’s diapers into the cesspool and the cesspool water seeped into the Broad Street Water Pump well.

Lemon Cream Cheese Dip-3356 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  Firstly, I have updated the Sloppy Joe mix and recipe since last posted.  On my sixth run through of the recipe, the family decided that the extra tomato paste made the dish super duper awesome instead of super awesome.  So, the printable recipe has been updated and the spice mix remains the same for Christmas or party gifts or your pantry!

Now to the cream cheese dip that the kids are giving the thumbs up for:
The kids have been eating this up all year for snack time or dessert!  Always a thumbs up in this house.  This recipe base is perfect for making double, triple or quadruple servings.  Orange, lime, lemon or grapefruit zest could all substitute for the lemon powder.  Vanilla beans or espresso powder could be added as well in lieu of the fruity flavors.

You can put this in little ramekins or disposable plastic cups with graham crackers, oreos or vanilla wafers for a crust.  Top with cherry or blueberry pie filling.  Or use as a dip as we did here with strawberries, kiwi and graham crackers.
Use a chocolate cracker crust and orange zest for Fall.
Use plain graham crackers and lime with toasted coconut topping.
Use full fat cream or neufchetal cheese.
Use Vanilla Wafers for the bottom and bananas on top.
Use Oreo cookies for the crust and more chocolate on top.
Use raspberries on top of lemon zest cheesecake.
Use caramel in the cheesecake and cooked apples on top.
Use almond extract with cherry or blackberry topping
The combinations are endless!

Here is a photo of the lemon juice powder.  It is so handy for adding lemon flavor without wondering if we have lemons in the house.  This way I can always make a smoothie or dessert with lemon flavor with what is in my pantry. King Arthur Flour usually has sales around the holidays to stock up the pantry at a discounted price or free shipping.

Lemon Cream Cheese Dip-3357 on Whisk Together


Lemon Cream Cheese Dip & Cheesecake
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) plain Greek yogurt (or vanilla)
  • 1 Tb. lemon juice powder or 1/2 tsp. lemon zest (or favorite flavor) or 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (or other)
  • 2 Tb. sugar or powdered sugar
  • For more of a cheesecake and less of a dip:
  • 16 oz. softened cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt – plain or vanilla
  1. To make it fast: mix everything together with a fork. This will be faster, but you may also have lumps from the cream cheese.
  2. To make it pretty: make sure the cream cheese is softened and beat on low to medium speed with beaters for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Add the sugar or powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until mixed well.
  3. Dip can be eaten immediately.
  4. Cheesecake needs mixed and put into the fridge until firm and ready to serve – about 2 plus hours.
Reduce or double/triple/quadruple as needed! [br]Don’t be afraid to change the flavors. The blog post has LOTS of great flavor combinations like almond and cherry, vanilla wafers and banana, raspberries and lemon, etc.


100 Calorie Fruit Pizza Bites

Mini Fruit Pizzas on Whisk Together

 I am so encouraged and inspired by all the wonderful readers on Whisk Together and Money Saving Mom following my How I Lost 33 Pounds and Kept It Off for 3 Years.  A lot of great ideas in the comments as well.  I tried to keep the blog post down to the essentials.  Everyone is different and has different motivations and tricks.  What works for one person might not for another, but these tricks worked for me and they may for other people as well.

To the new followers:  You will notice a difference in photos and number of posts now than if you view my previous blog entries.  We recently sold our house and living in an apartment with one large window blocked by our sectional!  No light and no kitchen space leads to different output.  The house should be done in early September though and back to rolling out the meal plans and recipes like usual!

Tips and Motivation:
1.  Buy or use a food scale.  If you notice boxes at the store use weight (ounces) and not volume (cups) in order to package their food.  This is because food shifts while in transit and completely normal.  But, the thing is that the nutritional facts are often also in weight measurements as well.  A food scale just made everything easier to get my plate and less messy.  Less mess is always good and my prime reason for weighing my baking ingredients!

2.  Go to sleep in your workout clothes if you need to.  If you need to workout in the morning and have trouble getting motivated, go to bed in your workout clothes.  It’s a great motivator, reminder and time saver in the morning.  When I used to exercise more at night, I wore my workout clothes all day to remind myself.

3.  If you lapse in your exercise or calorie intake, just start over.  Don’t think about it.  It’s a new day.  Just get back doing it again.  Easier said than done… I know!

4.  You WILL be hungry.   I have heard this complaint from some others that they didn’t like to diet because they were hungry.  Of course you are!  Your body loves homeostasis.  Your body wants to stay the same and in order to do that, it wants a certain number of calories to maintain that weight.  When you eat fewer calories, you are forcing the body to go out of homeostasis.  That’s why I roll my eyes at these diets that promise you won’t be hungry.  Of course, hunger is all relative and each person is different.  Hunger is a powerful tool your body uses.

How do you avoid hunger?  The things I tried were drinking lots of water and tea.  Chewing gum.  Finding a new hobby to work on.  Exercise during my hungriest time – evening – to keep me busy.  Eating almost zero calorie foods like celery.  Taking a multivitamin.

Mini Fruit Pizzas_1 on Whisk Together

**Book Update**  The new book I’ve been reading is Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo.  I taught public speaking for a few years and found a lot of the information very helpful.  There are some GREAT ideas like “practice”. Seriously.  The people that prepare for TED talks practice a lot and make their talk look so easy.  If you haven’t heard of TED talks, they are 18 minute presentations on “ideas worth spreading”.  You may have seen or heard of the most popular talk by Sir Ken Robinson on how “School Kill Creativity.”  The book is an excellent resource for anyone that has a public speaking engagement or in sales.  He suggests to use humor in your speech and  to create “wow” moments like when Bill Gates unleashed mosquitos during his malaria presentation.

Mini Fruit Pizzas_5 on Whisk Together

**Recipe Update**
The last recipe, Summer Vegetable Tian, was quite healthy.  So, I thought I would add this one to the blog because it was so successful.  I have also started coding all the nutritional information for future posts for myself and also for my husband because he started Lose It last week.  This recipe is the same as my Homemade Fruit Pizza  only I put them in a mini-muffin pan for portion control.  The toppings and ideas would also be delicious on those “Brownie Bites” they sell in stores – a super easy and quick makeover for a delicious store bought treat.

Mini Fruit Pizzas_3 on Whisk Together

I also love the fact that these treats have NO artificial colors or flavors.  View the cookies I made with just some strawberries and blueberries.  Recipes can be cute without resorting to artificial stuff!

Calories: 101;  Fat: 4.9 g; Carbs: 13.6 g; Sugars 9.4 g; Protein 1.4 g   (Calculated using 1 cup blueberries for topping)

Mini Fruit Pizzas_4 on Whisk Together  Mini Fruit Pizzas_6 on Whisk Together

100 Calorie Fruit Pizza Bites


  • For the Crust:
  • 1/2c. butter, soft
  • 3/4c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/4c. flour
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Topping:
  • 1 pkg. neufchatel cream cheese, soft (8 oz.)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 cups sliced fruit: strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, mandarin oranges, fresh cherries, blackberries, raspberries, mango, etc.


  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. In a great big bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. In a not so big bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients gradually and mix until it makes a dough. Shape the dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Think cookie dough log at the grocery store. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
  4. Spray a mini muffin pan with baking spray or cooking spray. You need two pans, or reuse your 1 pan.
  5. Cut the log into 1" disks. Cut those disks into fourths. You should have about 30-36 cookies. Place each cooking into the muffin well and press down slightly.
  6. Bake 12-16 minutes. Rotate halfway through baking. Remove when the edges just start to turn golden brown.
  7. After about 5 minutes, press the tops with your fingers or indent with a spoon just to make sure the top isn't doming. After 10 minutes, remove from the muffin pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. For the topping: Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Put into a pastry bag or a plastic freezer bag with the corner trimmed off with scissors. Squeeze and top each cookie with the cream cheese. Top with fruit. Store in the fridge until serving.

For the Crust:
1/2c. butter, soft
3/4c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1   1/4c. flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1 pkg. cream cheese, soft (8 oz.)*
Optional: 1-2 teaspoons of lime or lemon zest  LOVE this addition!!
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups or so of sliced fruit: pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, peaches, mandarin oranges, etc.)

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla.  Combine flour, tartar, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients gradually and stir until it makes a dough.  Shape the dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap.  The shape is just like the cookie dough logs at the store.  Put in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
2. Spray the mini muffin pan with baking or cooking spray.  Cut the roll at 1″ increments.  Then, each of those circles cut into fourths.  This is the messy part.  It’s okay. Put each 1/4 cookie into the wells.  Bake 12-16 minutes.  Rotate halfway through baking.  Remove when the edges just start to turn golden brown.  
3. Beat all of topping ingredients together except fruit.  Pipe onto cooled cookies using a pastry bag or plastic freezer bag with corner trimmed off.   Top with sliced fruit.

Apple Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

This cake was awesome!  We stored it in the fridge due to the cream cheese filling and it was still delicious 3 days later.  Even if you don’t want to make the entire thing, the frosting is exceptional.  I’m trying to think up other applications for it – maybe cupcakes or muffins.  Very simple and delicious – my two favorite combinations!

The cake is moist and flavorful with bits of apple and pecans throughout.  The spices really shine through and the crumb is tender and medium sized.  It was easy to slice and serve.  Decorating was simple and pretty and a breeze.  I may be a new fan of bundt cakes  – I really don’t care for decorating a whole lot.   The cake does take a little time especially since I had to finely chop 4 Gala apples.  I saved some time using my apple/corer/slicer and this cake didn’t seem to take as much time as a lot of my cupcakes other layer cakes do.   The reviewers on the original Southern Living website all gave this 5 stars as well!  I couldn’t wait to bake it – even the batter was good!

**Update 11/10** The cream cheese filling is difficult to keep inside.  I did it the first time.  The second time I made this I am having a little trouble and here is what you can do:  make the cream cheese filling and then put it in the fridge.  This will firm it up and then it won’t spread in the middle getting all over the layer.

Apple Cream Cheese Cake
serves 12

Cream Cheese Filling:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (4 Tb.) butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tb. flour
1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
3 cups AP flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples (about 4 medium ones, 1.5 lbs.)

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (4 Tb.)
3 Tb. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1.  Filling:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With an electric mixer in a big bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar on medium speed.   The mixture should be smooth.  Add your egg, flour and vanilla.  Beat on LOW speed – cream cheese mixtures usually need to take it slow.  Mix until blended and set aside.
2.  Cake:   Make sure your pecans are toasted:  you can toast them in the oven at 350 for 8-10 minutes, or in a skillet over medium heat for 10 minutes – making sure they don’t burn!  Stir once in a while.
3.  Mix your dry ingredients together in your mixer.  I used the whisk attachment:  flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and allspice.  Then using the paddle attachment, add the eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla.  Remove from the mixer and stir in the apples and pecans by hand.
4.  Grease and flour your bundt pan (12-14 cup size) or use Baker’s Joy.  Baker’s Joy is a ton easier.
5.  Add about 1/2 of the cake mixture to the pan.  Drop spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture.  Try to avoid the edges.  It is difficult… but try.  I used a cookie scoop to help.  Use up most to all of the cream cheese mixture.  Now, spread and add the rest of the cake batter on top.
6.  Bake for 60-70 minutes.  Cool cake for 15 minutes.  Then, invert onto a wire rack and cool another 2 hours.
7.  Frosting:  In a saucepan, heat the brown sugar, butter and milk.  Boil over medium heat.  Whisk and whisk.  Continue to boil 1 minute and whisk some more.  Take it off the heat and add in the vanilla.  Whisk in the powdered sugar and allow the mixture to cool to thicken a little bit before pouring over the cooled cake.  I tried using regular powdered sugar and it seemed clumpy, so I started to sift it and it stopped being clumpy.

Recipe from Southern Living

Lemon Braid

Now that we have made our own quick and easy lemon curd from scratch, let’s put it in some yummy bread!  Not only delicious, it looks like you picked it up at a bakery.  It reminds me of those cream cheese breakfast strudels from the grocery store, but with lots more flavor and without the extra yellow #6.

The filling is delicious and you can use other things to fill the braid like keep the cream cheese and lemon curd and top with blueberries.  Or instead of lemon curd use strawberry lemon marmalade or your favorite thick jam.  I would not use anything thin like chocolate ganache or something that will run all over your oven.

Lemon Braid
yield 2 loaves

3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tb. instant yeast
1/2 cup (2 oz.) AP flour
3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, soft
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (3.5 oz.) sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups (21.25 oz.) AP Flour
Egg wash: 1 egg + 2 tsp. water

5 Tbs. cream cheese, soft
1/4 cup (1.75 oz.) sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 cup lemon curd

1.  Make a sponge:  grab a small bowl and mix together the warm water, 2 tsp. sugar, 1 T. yeast and 1/4 cup flour.  Cover this tightly and sit for 10-15 minutes.

2.  Make the dough: In a large mixing bowl, mix with mixer: yogurt, butter, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla.  With paddle attachment, mix in the 4.5 cups of flour.  Once it is just combined and shaggy looking, switch to the dough hook.  Knead on speed 2 for 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth and soft.  Sometimes you need to add more flour here.

3.   Place dough in a large, greased bowl to rise 60-90 minutes.  Cover this with plastic wrap.

4.  Make filling:  mix all the ingredients together in the filling ingredient list except the lemon curd.  Cover and let sit in fridge until ready.

5.  Back to Dough:  Punch gently and divide in half.  Cover one with plastic wrap and the other roll into 10″x 15″ rectangle.  (I fudge the dimensions on cinnamon rolls and stuff, but this you really need to try and get to 10×15″ as close as possible).   *Do not fill the top and bottom 1″.*  Keeping the cream cheese in the center, spread half of it in the middle.  Then spread half of the lemon curd on top of the cream cheese.

6.  To braid:   Cut 1″ strips down the sides of the outside sections where you did not put the filling.  Make sure that each side has the same number of strips.   Cut out the corner sections so that you can fold the top down and braid the bread all the way down to the bottom and fold the bottom piece over the braid.

7.  Repeat for the second braid.  Cover and rise 45 minutes.

8.  When 15 minutes are left in the rise, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash on the braid.

9.  Bake 25-30 min. or until golden brown.  Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving or the filling will ooze.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Cheesecake Fruit Dip Recipes

So, I’m a fruit nut and the strawberries are not totally disgusting this time of year.   But anyway, here is a basic dip that does not include corn syrup.  A wide number of fruit dips include cream cheese mixed with marshmallow creme.  Though delicious, I’m trying to go for something a little less processed.

The first is your basic fruit dip.  I love it because it tastes like cheesecake… without all the baking and 1000+ calories.

**Just tried off-brand cream cheese and I would advise to go with Philadelphia brand.  The off-brands do not have consistent results for me.  **

Cheesecake Fruit Dip
yield  8oz.

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened (aka leave it on your counter for 20 minutes)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix it all up!  Dip with berries, pineapple, cantalope, kiwi, graham crackers or oreos.  Whatever you normally would eat with a cheesecake.  Or even spread it on sugar cookies.  Drool.

 Variation:   instead of vanilla extract use a mix of lime zest/juice, or lemon juice/zest/extract

Skinny Cheesecake Fruit Dip
yield 8 oz.

1 (8 oz.) package of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature (also called Neufchatel)
1/4 cup Splenda or alternative no calorie sweetener
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix it all up!

Yes, you COULD sub all the sugar for Splenda, but then it starts to give it a nasty wang.  Blah.

You can change up the flavor for this next version.  I was trying to experiment and make my own Key Lime Cheeseball Dip and it didn’t taste quite like the mix we buy at the local store.  But it did taste very limey!  I’m sure you could try different flavors like lemon or orange.  Since there is gelatin involved, simply roll into a ball in plastic wrap and fridge for 2-3 hours to shape into a ball.

Lime Cheesecake Fruit Dip
yield 8 oz.

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
7 Tbs. Lime Flavored Jello (you will need the larger 6 oz. box)
2-3 tsps. lime juice
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers (optional)

 Mix it all up except the graham crackers!  Adjust the jello and juice to taste.  You really gotta like the jello flavor to like this one!  Sprinkle the crushed graham crackers on top, or roll the cheeseball in them.

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