July 8, 2010 at 8:31 a.m.

Cream cheese is an American original

Cream cheese is an American original
Cream cheese is an American original

Today it's recipes using a ingredient that I know I've not written about in the past 30 years! Well, it's about using cream cheese in recipes. Cream cheese, an American original was developed over a century ago and was first produced commercially by a farmer in upstate New York. It was first used only as a spread on breads, crackers or toast. Adding fresh jams or mixing it with fruit changed this delicate cheese into a variety of spreads. No one thought about using cream cheese in recipes until the late 1920's when Kraft first published a recipe for it's new "Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cake." This all-time favorite has been renamed the "Supreme Cheesecake", now called "Philly Cheesecake."

I'm going to use the letters "cc" for cream cheese in today's recipes. Don't ask me why!

PHILLY CHEESECAKE

Crust:

1 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 14 squares)

1 T. sugar

3 T. butter or margarine, melted

Filling:

3 - 8 oz. pkgs. cc, softened

1 c. sour cream

3/4 c. sugar

3 eggs

2 t. flour

1 T. plus 2 t. lemon juice

1 t. grated lemon peel

1 T. vanilla

1/4 c. melted butter, cooled

1/3 c. whipping cream

For crust: In a medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and butter, mixing well. Press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes; cool completely. For filling; combine first 5 ingredients; beat until fluffy. Add remaining 5 ingredients; beat well. Pour over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until top is light brown. Carefully remove from oven. It will be a bit wiggly. Cool completely. Loosen cake from rim of pan with a knife. Top with your choice of pie filling (often using cherry pie filling) or fresh sliced strawberries, peaches or blueberries.

Makes 10-12 servings.

+++++

FRUIT SALAD SUPREME

1-8 oz. pkg. regular or "light" cc, softened

1/4 c. milk

1 T. lemon juice

1/2 grated lemon peel

1 c. whipping cream - not whipped topping

1/2 c. powdered sugar

3 c. skin on apples, cut in small chunks

3 c. honeydew melon, cut in small chunks

2 c. strawberries, sliced (if large, cut in half vertically and then sliced)

2 c. green grapes (if large, cut in half horizonally)

1/2 c. chopped pecans or cashews

In a medium bowl, combine first 4 ingredients, mixing until blended ( I mix cc and milk together using a wire whisk). Then add juice and peel. Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form; gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into creamed mixture. Combine 1/2 c. cc mixture and apples; mix lightly in a 3 qt. bowl. Layer honeydew, apple mixture, berries and grapes in a 1 1/2 qt. bowl - preferably glass to show off the layers of fruit. Top with the rest of cc mixture; sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Makes 12 servings

Note: When using fresh lemon juice in a recipe, grate the peel onto waxed paper before cutting. Let it dry, put it in a small container, (I use a washed and dried old pill container for the grated peel) and you'll have it ready when a recipe calls for it. Also, this recipe is easily cut in half to serve 6.

+++++

CREAMY TUNA ON BAGELS

1-8 oz. pkg. cc, softened

1-6-1/2 oz. can tuna, drained well, flaked

2 T. green onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1/2 t. fresh dill weed or 1/8 t. dried

Dash of pepper

3 sliced bagels, toasted

Combine all ingredients, except bagels; mix lightly. Spread bagel halves with tuna mixture. Broil 4-5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. If you wish, you can serve them at room temperature... they're better broiled.

Note: Don't have the oven rack too close to the broiler or they'll burn. I'd say about 6-inches from heat.

Makes 6 servings.

Six servings means only 1/2 bagel for 6 people...hello Alice. I s'pose if you served it for lunch with some fresh fruit and sun chips, or some other kind of chips, 1/2 bagel would do it. Whatever!

+++++

ZESTY HERB SPREAD

1-8 oz. pkg. "light" (Neufchatel) cream cheese, softened

1 T. chopped chives, or green onion, using green part, minced

1/4 t. dried basil leaves, chill.

Dash of pepper

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Turn into a little bowl. Using a pastry tube, pipe cc mixture onto 1/2-inch zucchini or cucumber slices, 1/2-inch wide sweet red, green or orange pepper strips, hollowed out cherry tomatoes, crackers, etc.

Makes 1 c. This keeps well in the fridge for a week or so.

If you don't have a pastry tube spread with a dinner knife.

It's great to serve for a snack at a card party or when friends stop by rather then serving sweets.

Don't forget it is the celebration of Karl Oskar days this weekend. Have a great time participating in all the activities going on!

TFD: Wouldn't it be wonderful if, when we lose our temper we couldn't find it again!

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