Dips and Spreads

Easy Veggie Cream Cheese Spread

Veggie cream cheese.

This fresh and easy Veggie Cream Cheese Spread is perfect for bagels! With only 4 ingredients you can whip this up in no time. Crunchy carrots, Crisp Celery, Green Onion and Cream Cheese.

On some Tuesdays I pick up the Bakers Dozen Special at Panera. We LOVE their bagels. I freeze them the same day. I like to make my own vegetable cream cheese spread with fresh ingredients rather than buying their pre-made version. When I lived on the East Coast, there was an old-school bagel shop and they made all of their spreads with fresh ingredients.

I created this easy veggie cream cheese spread recipe years ago based upon how that shop made it. It only has 4 ingredients.  I use a food processor to chop up the celery and carrots and then stir the green onion in.


1. Cream Cheese

cream cheese and less fat cream cheese.

What is the difference between Cream Cheese and the Lower Fat Neufchâtel cheese?

Cream cheese originated in the United States in the late 1800s, while Neufchâtel cheese is a French cheese that has been around since at least the 6th century. Cream Cheese has a higher fat content and seems a little bit thicker to me. I like them both and either are great with this easy spread. I’ve used both. Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese comes in both varieties.

2. Pre-Shredded Carrots

I use pre-shredded carrots from the bag for this recipe because they have a lower moisture content than a freshly grated carrot and won’t make the spread too orange and wet. Sometimes they are  called “Matchstick.”

3. Celery: Chopped

4. Green Onion: Sliced

Snipped Fresh Chives can be used in place of the green onions.


I use a small electric chopper to grind up the celery and carrots or the Food Processor. When I use a larger food processor, I put all of the ingredients (except the onion) in and pulse until blended. Then I stir the onion in manually at the end so it doesn’t get broken up. The more you pulse it, the more flavor it will have. If you are making the spread for a sandwich or wrap, you’ll definitely want to pulse the cream cheese mixture until smooth.

If you do not have a chopper or a food processor, you could use a blender for the vegetables, or just chop everything really fine, by hand.


The great thing about this spread is that you can keep it in a sealed tight container for one week.


It’s a flavor explosion on the EVERYTHING Bagel. I don’t add salt or additional garlic powder, dill or flavorings because the spread is just meant to compliment my very flavorful Everything Bagel, not overpower it. If you wanted you could stir in some red bell pepper or even finely diced roasted bell pepper from the jar but sometimes -less is more-it depends on what you are putting this on.


If you’re looking for something with more of a kick, say for crackers or a plain bread, try mixing your favorite herbs, additional cheeses or spices into your vegetable cream cheese recipe to create unique variations like jalapeno-cheddar spread. Cream cheese spreads also make great additions to other sandwiches and wraps, taking them to a whole other level.Bagel.


WATCH the VIDEO BELOW to See How EASY it is:

Veggie Cream Cheese Spread

A super easy and quick spread that's creamy and fresh. The richness of cream cheese with the freshness of just 3 vegetables.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 1 food processor or mini-chopper or chop manually by hand with a knife


  • 2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese may use low-fat Neufchâtel
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup celery diced
  • 1/2 cup green onion, washed well and patted dry, green part only finely sliced


  • Place cream cheese in large mixing bowl to soften, set aside.
  • In bowl of processor or chopper, add celery and carrot. Pulse until finely chopped.
  • Pour mixture onto the cream cheese. Add onion.
  • Stir until well-blended.
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  • If you have a larger sized food processor, you may add cream cheese, celery and carrots at the same time and pulse. Then gently add the onion.


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Natural Peanut Butter Cookies

The perfect Old-Fashioned Criss-Cross Natural Peanut Butter Cookies homemade with Real Peanut Butter that are rich, dense, chewy and just a little healthier. I created this recipe specifically for all you TRUE Natural Peanut Butter Lovers out there!

The Case For Natural Peanut Butter

There are 4 main types of Peanut Butter.

1. The Ultra-Processed type like Skippy, Peter Pan and Jif, that is technically a “Peanut Butter Spread.”

2. The Natural Kind in the jar with a layer of peanut oil on top.

3. The Natural kind you grind yourself in the health food section at the grocery store. Seriously rustic and very good but also can be pricey.

4. The Kind labeled “Natural” that isn’t fully natural.

Many years ago I switched to true Natural Peanut Butter. INGREDIENTS: Roasted Peanuts, Salt. That’s all. So next time you are buying peanut butter, take a look at the ingredients on the label.

The First Peanut Butter Was Just Ground Up Peanuts.


Natural peanut butter is a type of peanut butter that is made from 100% ground peanuts, without any added oils, sugar, or preservatives. It is generally considered to be healthier than regular peanut butter, which often contains added syrups and hydrogenated oil. The first modern commercial peanut butter was produced around 1898 by a company called Krema Products Company. The ingredients were just…Ground Up Peanuts! By the 1950’s “Stabilizers” are mentioned on the labels and Peanut Butter has exploded across the country.

One of the primary benefits of Natural Peanut Butter is it being a great source of protein and the healthy fats. It is also offers dietary fiber and vitamins such as vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium. Natural is the healthy peanut butter.

Peanuts are not nuts, they are legumes.

The Absence of Stabilizers in the Jar:

The oil separates and rises to the top because there are no other ingredients to bind it all together. Once you stir it and chill, the peanut butter will not separate again. Don’t pour off the oil. Stir it in. You CAN skim off some of the oil on the top before you chill it but you don’t want to get rid of all of that oil otherwise it won’t be spreadable. If the oil isn’t on the top when you buy it, it’s probably not completely Natural.

Which Natural Peanut Butter Should I Use in this recipe?

  • The oil is on the top, you stir that in and keep in the refrigerator.
  • The ingredients on the label are only Peanuts and Salt.

While one of my favorite peanut butters is Smucker’s, this recipe does not work well with grainy textured peanut butter, even if it is CREAMY style. I use Dillon’s or Kroger Brand but it depends on what you find in your local grocery store. Most grocery stores carry their own brand. If not, for certain you will find a smooth creamy Natural Peanut Butter in any Health Food store.

Comparing Two peanut Butters.

Which Shortening to Use:

When completing my final testing of this recipe, I made two batches. One with Crisco and one with Non-Hydrogenated Spectrum Organic All-Vegetable Shortening. The batches tasted and turned out EXACTLY the same. You already know how bad hydrogenated oils are so I don’t need to tell you that. I did feel better about using the Spectrum, knowing it was healthier. However, the tub cost $13.50 at Natural Grocers.

Spectrum Shortening.

Two Important Tips:

  1. This recipe calls for LIGHT brown sugar, if you use Dark Brown Sugar, the recipe won’t turn out. Follow the recipe exactly.
  2. To prevent dry crispy cookies, take them out of the oven just before you think they are done-when they start to get puffy. Start watching at the 8 minute mark.  Let them rest on the baking sheet, they will continue to bake and set while they cool down. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes on the sheet. Over-brown and Overbaking will make them crispy.

Tools Needed:

A Silpat Baking Mat is always nice to have when making cookies, but it’s not necessary. You can put them right on a non-stick cookie sheet or parchment paper.

A Cookie scoop if you want them to look like they came off a factory line. That’s how I like my Snickerdoodle CookiesIf you want the old-fashioned homemade classic look with uneven scrumptious edges, then just wing it with a Tablespoon! But I wouldn’t smush the dough into balls. Watch the video below to see how it’s done! 🙂 

For this classic cookie, you just need a Tablespoon or a cookie scoop.

A FORK is necessary!

A Baking Sheet.

What are the ingredients?


  • Unsalted Butter – Make sure your butter is fresh, I like Challenge Butter or Land O’ Lakes.
  • Vegetable Shortening – Crisco Baking Sticks are a staple in baking. They are very easy to measure with and then store. No cups needed! However if you are using Natural Peanut Butter for the Health Benefit, you can also use Spectrum® brand Organic Shortening in place of the Crisco. IT does not have any hydrogenated oil in it. 
  • Salt – Regular table salt or another ultra fine grain salt, as we don’t want any big chunks of salt in this cookie.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract – Some “Baking Vanilla” is good enough, but if you have PURE, let’s go for it!
  • Natural Creamy Peanut Butter – Ingredients label should read: Roasted Peanuts, Salt. Stir with your butter knife until the oil is mixed in and be sure to put this jar in the fridge after you use it.
  • LIGHT Brown Sugar – Dark Brown Sugar just doesn’t work here. I tried in my testing. Make sure it’s moist and fresh. Brown Sugar needs to be stored AIR-TIGHT or it gets crunchy and pebbly. PACKED means that it is packed into the dry style measuring cup.
  • Eggs – You need these eggs to give the cookie some weight and density.
  • All-Purpose FlourKing Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour is my choice. Found in MOST grocery stores in the baking section.
  • Baking Powder – Baking powder gives your cookie some fluff and lightness to it. Sometimes it’s hard to find, but if you see baking powder labeled “Aluminum Free”…get that one, although Rumford or Clabber Girl work perfect in this recipe. NOT BAKING SODA. Baking POWDER already has Baking SODA in it, there is no need to double up on the same ingredients. IF you are using an old can from your pantry, be sure to check the date. It does go bad and start to degrade once it is exposed to air for a long period of time.

How to keep the cookies soft or crispy:

If you want soft and chewy cookies, take them out of the oven right before they are done, let cool and put them in an airtight container or ziplock bag right away once cooled.

If you want them crispy, bake them a little longer and let them sit out on the rack to cool longer. They won’t be sitting around long so you probably won’t have to worry about that! 🙂

A Common Question: Why Can’t you use Natural Peanut Butter in Peanut Butter Cookies?

You CAN in this recipe! Most recipes just weren’t created or written with Natural Peanut Butter in mind because most households have used and consumed the popular processed peanut butters since the mid-century.


Natural Peanut Butter Cookies

The perfect Old-Fashioned Criss-Cross Peanut Butter Cookies homemade with Natural Peanut Butter that are rich, dense, chewy and just a little bit healthier than regular peanut butter cookies.
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Total Time: 45 minutes
Author: Lanie


  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened, but not melted
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups light brown sugar packed (Do not use Dark Brown Sugar)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp regular table salt
  • 1 cup creamy Natural Peanut Butter stirred
  • 2 eggs beaten


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In Large bowl, with mixer on low speed, add soft butter, shortening, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add peanut butter.Mix on low until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  • Crack eggs into a small bowl, whisk and add them to the mixture. Continue to mix on low-medium until smooth. About one minute.
  • Turn off mixer and switch to a large spoon. Fold in the flour-baking powder mixture until well-combined. Press dough into bottom of bowl and place in refrigerator. Cover with wrap and Chill for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • IN Tablespoon size scoops, drop balls onto baking sheet two inches apart.
  • With fork, press gently into the tops, once going each direction like Tic Tac Toe.
  • Bake for 8 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on pan.


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Best Banana Walnut Bread

Here is the Best Moist Banana Walnut Bread recipe I’ve kept for over 20 years.  I’ll give you the secret to making it flavorful, super moist, tender and delicious every single time. You can make it with or without nuts. This is a One-Bowl Recipe. No mixer needed, just a fork and spoon. WATCH the video to see how quick and easy this is to make.

Let’s jump right in here and talk about Banana Bread. Is there anything that smells better than fresh homemade banana bread baking in the kitchen? Oh! if there is a scent for comfort, that’s it! No wonder so many candles are named “Banana Bread.”

The Ingredients

There are no weird ingredients in this recipe. Pure Basic Banana Bread. This recipe is a simple and pure, loaded with fresh ripe bananas, butter and pure vanilla extract. You can go a little wild here and add some walnuts. I like to make a few loaves with walnuts and a few without.

Banana bread ingredients.

  • ripe bananas
  • margarine or unsalted butter, gently melted
  • white sugar
  • regular sour cream
  • table salt
  • eggs
  • pure vanilla extract
  • baking soda
  • all purpose flour
  • chopped walnuts (optional for Banana-Nut Bread)

Why this recipe is so good

There are several reasons why Banana Bread recipes might turn out dry or undercooked. I’m sharing with you the TWO secrets to great Banana Bread –

1. Make it in mini-loaf pans. These are the 5-inch long pans. You can use the inexpensive aluminum disposable type and those are easy if you aren’t ready to invest in a set of mini-loaf pans. Most people use the larger loaf pans to make Banana Bread. Those larger loaf pans are really designed for YEAST Breads or Pound Cakes. (Note: Don’t Make Meatloaf in a Loaf Pan, that’s another story- “Loaf” doesn’t always mean LOAF.) Banana Bread is considered a QUICK bread. I also like the small loaf pans because it slices up into perfect size pieces that fit right into your hand to hold and nibble.

mini loaf pans 5by3.

I’ve always found that Quick Breads turn out better if they are made in smaller forms. There is a reason that cupcakes are generally moister than large cakes. The reason is, it bakes from the outside in. So if you are using a larger pan to bake in, by the time the middle is baked, the outer edges have developed too dark. And Dark edges equals DRY.

2. This recipe has Sour Cream in it. This lends to a moister bread.

How Ripe Should Bananas Be For Banana Bread?

You will get out of your bread what you put in to it. If you put over-ripe fully black rotten bananas in your bread, you will have Rotten Banana Bread. Ideally, your bananas should be yellow and have some brown freckles on them. They are best from the time they have a few freckles, and no more freckles than the photograph below. At any point after this ripeness stage, they are ready for the compost pile.

ripe bananas with spots.

History Tidbit: Is This a Vintage Banana Bread Recipe?

Yes! I printed this recipe out in 1999 from what was probably one of the first recipe card sites on-line. Have NO IDEA what site that was. I have modified it a little bit. But since then, I’ve come across several variations in cookbooks of this recipe using sour cream as far back as the 1960’s.

How To Store?

Wrap the bread as soon as it cools with Saran Wrap. Heat in microwave to soften it up.

Can you freeze Banana Bread?

Yes. This recipe is great for freezing. Make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then place them inside a freezer bag or container so that it doesn’t get freezer burn. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 4 months. To thaw, just let thaw naturally on the counter or use the defrost function on your microwave.

This recipe makes 3 small loaves. Not one big one. 🙂 You can put it in one big loaf pan but only fill it halfway. SEE how easy, VIDEO below.

Banana Walnut Bread

Pure Basic Banana Bread. This recipe is a simple and pure banana bread loaded with fresh ripe bananas, butter and pure vanilla extract. You can add some walnuts. I like to make a few loaves with walnuts and a few without.
Print Love
Author: Lanie Smith


  • 3 small sized ripe bananas (or 2 medium sized) yellow with brown freckles
  • 1/2 cup margerine or unsalted butter lightly melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp regular sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts* optional


  • Place peeled bananas in a large bowl and mash until slimy.
  • Add all of the other ingredients in the bowl, one at a time, in the order listed, stirring each one in, as you go.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray tins with Pam Baking spray.
  • Spoon batter evenly and equally into each of the 3 Tins.
  • Bake for about 27-30 minutes until a golden brown crown on top appears. Keep the oven door closed while it's baking. A massive drop in heat can cause your bread to collapse in the middle.
  • Enjoy warm with a pat of butter.


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Real Pina Colada with COCO Lopez Recipe

Coco Lopez Pina Coladas

The Classic cocktail of Pineapple Juice, Cream of Coconut, Puerto Rican Rum and Lots of Ice is how to make a REAL Pina Colada. You will need a cherry for the top and a straw too!

Pina Colada Recipe right on the glass!

Pina Colada Recipe

This is an authentic Pina Colada, the way they were originally made in Puerto Rico.

What Kind of Pineapple Juice to Use:

I keep small cans of Dole 100% pineapple juice in my pantry cabinet at all times. EASY. I use it for stir-fry and marinades. Also, my three favorite cocktails are all made with pineapple juice! 🙂 The small cans are the perfect size for no waste and they last a long time. Any pineapple juice that says 100% will be perfect. I have tried to use different juice blends over the years, but nothing is as good as JUST pineapple juice. If you are really adventurous, consider juicing a really ripe pineapple with your juicer.

This is the only modification we made from the original recipe which uses La Famosa Pineapple Juice. Here is a little background I found about the juice company from Puerto Rico. It turns out the family now has a restaurant in D.C.

LaFamosa Juice

When was the Pina Colada Invented?

San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1954. Since La Famosa Pineapple Juice was produced in Puerto Rico from 1920 to the 1970’s, it is safe to say the juice was present in many Pina Coladas. In 1978, the Piña Colada was named the official drink of Puerto Rico.

How old are these glasses?

I have looked high and low for an advertisement that might feature these glasses so I can give them an exact date. Coco López’ was created in Puerto Rico in 1948. They were likely produced sometime after Borden bought La Famosa and were for promotional purposes of the two products, therefore probably around 1980. I found this ad and you can see the Colada is garnished with a “Pineapple Stick”, same as in this recipe.

1980 Ad with Coco Lopez and La Famosa
1980 Advertisement Coco Lopez Pina Colada

Often, a fresh pineapple wedge with the outer shell still on is used as the garnish. While this skin is edible, most people don’t eat it. I really like making a stick because the whole thing is easy to eat. You can use it to stir down the slush too. You can even make the stick from the core which makes use of the whole fruit.

Make Sure You buy “COCO Lopez CREAM OF COCONUT not Coconut Cream. Coconut Cream is not sweet. COCO Lopez does all the work for you!

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do you make the best Virgin Pina Colada?

Just follow the recipe and omit the rum! You may need to reduce the ice.

Can you get drunk on a Piña Colada?

Yes, of course you can, but maybe you shouldn’t because this is a very sweet drink. It’s meant to be sipped as the ice melts, slowly. A non-alcoholic Pina Colada is just as tasty as one with rum. Too much rum can ruin it, so be sure to measure.

How do I measure without a shot glass?

1 Tablespoon is equal to about 1/2 ounce of liquid. So 3 Tablespoons of Rum for this recipe. I used a little less because I’m all about the Pineapple and Coconut! It is very nice to serve the Pina Colada non-alcoholic with the Rum “on the side” and let the person drinking it decide how much they want to add as a topper.

Just a little tip:

Use ice from a bag unless you have a great freezer that makes small ice chunks. Bagged ice from the store is gentle on the blender and just smooths up EVENLY in a short time with no random chunks of ice.

Coco Lopez Pina Coladas

COCO Lopez Piña Colada Recipe

This recipe was printed right on the side of a COCO Lopez Pina Colada Glass! This is a simple easy recipe that makes a traditional Pina Colada. Rich, Creamy and Luscious.
5 from 5 votes
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  • 1 oz. Coco Lopez Cream OF Coconut
  • 2 oz. 100% Pineapple Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. Puerto Rican Rum light
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 1 cherry and pineapple stick per beverage


Mix. Best when mixed in a blender for 30 seconds or to taste. Garnish with cherry and pineapple stick.
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10 Table Manners That We Forgot

Here are 10 Table Manners That We Might need to brush up on. Most of us learned Table Manners at home while we were children but sometimes it is easy to forget! I found these in Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette.

I started to wonder if having good manners was out of fashion,…but then realized the act of showing consideration for others, could never be out of style.

Manners, are timeless. 

I flipped through Amy’s book, excuse me, I meant Mrs. Vanderbilt’s book and found the TOP 10 Manners, I think we forgot! A few of my own side notes are added. Enjoy.

tips on table manners

1. Drinking Beverages: In drinking any beverage at table, a sip is never taken until the mouth is empty and has been wiped with the napkin. This keeps cup and glass rims free from food marks.

2. Napkins: are placed on the lap-entirely open if they are lunch size or in half if they are dinner napkins. Guests wait until the hostess has taken up hers before placing their own. After the meal, they are gathered and laid casually to the right of the place setting. (Cloth napkin folded in half on the lap at dinner. Leave napkin to the right after dinner….Got it!)

3. Soup: If it is too hot, it must be allowed to stand until it is tolerable- it may not be blown, spoonful by spoonful, until it is cool enough. (This is my favorite one.)

4. Tasting Another’s Food: Sometimes a couple dining in a restaurant wish to taste each other’s food. This is informal but permissible, though only if a fresh fork or spoon is used, with the possessor of the dish then handling the taste implement, handle first, to the other person. The other must not reach across the table and eat from a companion’s plate, no matter how many years they have been married. (What? You’ve got to be kidding me. Sorry, but I cannot follow this rule. My husband and I share all food and have been doing so for 23 years, why change now?)

5. Conversation At The Table: Conversation and laughter should always be modified at table. What is deemed proper table conversation today? Almost anything except highly controversial (religion, politics) or squeamish topics (accident, illness, operations, real scandal, unaesthetic things.) (TRUE, but please, share your laughter freely, unless you’ve had a few too many.)

6. Posture: Elbows on the table are permissible between courses but not while one is eating.

7. Silverware: Your own wet spoon should never be place in the sugar bowl, nor your butter knife in the jam or butter dish. (Cross-Contamination. Look folks, Let’s not have jam swirled in the peanut butter jar! Or how about toast crumbs in the butter tub?)

8. Stirring Food: Nothing should ever be stirred up or mashed into a conglomerate heap on the plate. It is an insult to the cuisine to inundate everything on your plate with gravy, or with that American favorite, catsup. (But seriously, can we make an exception for hash browns? Please? Ketchup and Hash browns…so good, pretty please?)

9. Blowing One’s Nose At The Table: If the nose must be blown at table, it is done as quietly as possible, without excuse to draw attention to the fact. (OH dear, I’ve seen people do that at restaurants. PLEASE don’t put your napkin or tissue on the plate after doing so. Somebody has to eat off that plate next.)

10. Saying Grace: A guest at the table is often given the honor of saying grace. Grace is usually said after everyone is seated and before anything-napkins or even water-is touched on the table. Here is the most familiar grace of all, acceptable to all religions:

For what we are about to receive,
Lord, make us truly thankful. Amen

(Thank you)

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