Nothing makes me happier than having guests over for the holidays. It means I can do what I enjoy most...cook for people I care about. And because none of our family lives nearby (not even in the same state), we typically invite friends over. Nothing says family like a great group of friends!
So to help gather new recipes and ideas to try this holiday season, I recently attended two food/cooking parties. Before I get too far into my conclusions on those companies, let me first just say that I gained a real appreciation for serious (made from scratch) cooking. Maybe it's because I grew up cooking from scratch or maybe it's because I have all day to get dinner on the table, but I was hardly impressed with what I saw. Not to say everything was horrible because it wasn't (and I really loved many of the gadgets from one of the companies), but I don't see the point in adding water to a pouch and calling it soup or microwaving a boxed cake mix and calling it homemade!
With my new budget-balancing radar on, now more than ever, I'm determined to get the most from my money while also making sure our meals are healthy and delicious. There's no need to spend a ton to make a fabulous meal from fresh ingredients in next-to-no time at all. That's why I decided to try the Land O'Lakes recipe Caramelized Garlic Cheese Spread.
Motivated by the parties I attended where a dry mix was added to sour cream or cream cheese, I was out to prove that I could make a cheese spread that tasted just as good, in about the same amount of time, was more cost-effective, and was also homemade. I believe I succeeded with this recipe...
To begin making the spread, peel and chop your garlic. You can use minced garlic (the kind that comes in a jar), however, I prefer to use the fresh stuff. It always makes the kitchen smell great! I love garlic...
In a small skillet, melt the butter until it begins to sizzle in the pan (med/high heat). Then add the garlic and sugar, and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes.
When the mixture begins to brown slightly, remove it from the heat. You don't want the garlic to burn, and it quickly goes from slightly brown to burned!
Add the cooked garlic to a large bowl, and mix it with the other spread ingredients. Instead of using green onion I used chives only because I already had them, and they were already chopped. Like the green onion, the chives add that lovely hint of onion to the spread.
After I mixed the ingredients slightly, I used a handheld mixer to create a smooth spread texture. It looks awesome and it tastes even better. Taste test anyone?
Next, you need to shape the spread into a ball and refrigerate it for about an hour. I spooned the spread onto some plastic food wrap and shaped it into a ball by rolling it around slightly. It was too creamy to mold with my hands, so the plastic food wrap did the hard work for me.
Although this spread is excellent cold, I would almost like to try it warm. At this point, you could probably microwave the spread for a minute or two to serve it like a dip. Even cold, it tastes very similar to the "Cheesy Chive" dip offered by one company.
While the spread chills in the refrigerator, you can crush the crackers that will become the outer layer of your pumpkin (cheese ball). I started with my fingers and then switched to the rolling pin to get a finer crumb.
After the spread chills for about an hour, remove it from the refrigerator, and place it on top of the crushed crackers.
Roll the cheese ball around in the crushed crackers until it's completely coated.
Now comes the creative part! Transfer the cheese ball to your serving dish or platter, and make vertical lines on it so it resembles a pumpkin. I used the back of a steak knife, and it worked very well.
Add a stem, and your pumpkin's ready! I really liked the stem on my bell pepper, so that's what I used.
I served it with crackers (because that's what the kids like), but you can also serve it with crostini, which are small, thin slices of toasted bread usually brushed with olive oil, or vegetables. It is excellent! It took next-to-no time to make, and I had all the ingredients to make it in my fridge and pantry. I've already "wowed" my kids with Caramelized Garlic Cheese Spread, and I can't wait for my next chance to make it so I can "wow" my friends and guests as well.
I would love to hear your comments about this recipe. Any ideas when you might serve this recipe? Remember others would like to know your recipe rating and review of this recipe.