Check the pantry of any savvy party princess and you'll find a myriad of olives, capers, mustards and all sorts of yummy marinated goodies. Her fridge will no doubt offer up a trendy staple of cured sausages and salamis, cheeses and fruits. She's ready for anything and anyone, at any time.
But wait, was that your doorbell? And it's only Tuesday - your grocery day isn't until Thursday. Luckily, you've got the mother of all go-to condiments in your fridge: cream cheese!
Yes, that creamy, tangy white stuff you've been "schmearing" on your bagels all these years is the quintessential party fixer upper when hungry, unexpected guests show up at your doorstep.
For the timid, mix any size container of cream cheese with a variety of dried herbs, garlic and salt for a quick cheesy-yummy spread for crackers and veggies. For those of you who crave culinary adventure, combine cream cheese with shredded cheddar, a splash of hot pepper sauce, tons of garlic, chopped and drained frozen spinach [thawed] , and chopped artichoke hearts [packed in water, not oil]. Place the mixture into a baking dish and bake until hot and bubbly on top, and ta-da! You've just created the best darn spinach and artichoke dip that would make that chain restaurant you secretly go to each week blush. Serve with crackers and crudite.
If you're searching for more ooh's and ah's, roll cream cheese into a log, or break into small pieces and roll into 1/2" balls. Then roll the cream cheese into cracked black pepper or a variety of fresh, chopped herbs. Mixing cream cheese with nuts and honey makes a sweet dessert cheese in a pinch. Serve with crackers and berries or grapes on the side.
Ok, you're getting the hang of it. Stuff giant green olives with a mixture of cream cheese, finely diced red pepper, garlic and capers. Or, try a mixture of cream cheese, peanut butter and honey - pipe fancy ribbons onto stalks of celery and munch the night away.
And [cue trumpet call] for the ultimate cocktail sauce [and killer with potato chips, too], mix cream cheese with ketchup. Yes, you heard me. It's amazing. Really. Add lump crab meat or lobster meat and you'll send yourself straight to the moon.
Whether sweet or savory, diva or totally tailgate, the beauty of working with cream cheese as a dip or spread is that you never need a recipe. It's such a wonderfully forgiving condiment and blends so well with just about anything you care to mix into it, in any amount or measurement.
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Thanks for "schmearing" your recipes!
Post and images provided by the folks at Anna Bella Stationery: stationery & lovely things.