Here’s an easy homemade appetizer that takes a little planning, but only two, maybe three, ingredients. It comes out looking like a fancy artisanal cheese (all the more so if you don’t manage to cut all the pieces exactly the same size and shape), but it’s made of ingredients you can pick up at the nearest grocery store. And that’s not all — it’s also low fat. Well, lower fat, anyway. While I certainly didn’t invent marinated cream cheese, I think I’m the first to post a recipe for a “lite” version.
Any fat-free vinaigrette will be good; I used five herb simply because it was on sale. You’ll often find salad dressing on sale this time of year, so see what’s out there.
As I note, the bacon bits are completely optional. One of my tasters said they made it slightly better, another didn’t taste any difference. You could try putting them on just half the cheese pieces for a contrasting look.
You could also lay this out along with more expensive cheeses to fill out the selection without breaking the bank.
Marinated cream cheese works best with bland crackers. The elaborately flavored ones (even Triscuit is branching out) don’t need toppings anyway. It would also work as a sandwich spread, or a topping for baked potatoes. You’ll see some dishes where it’s cut in thin squares and layered between slices of cheddar, so if you want to get fancy you can experiment with something like that. But the basic recipe stands on its own.
- 1 (8-ounce) brick plain light cream cheese
- Fat-free herb vinaigrette salad dressing
- Bacon bits (optional)
- Chill a plate in the refrigerator for several minutes.
- Unwrap the cream cheese and turn onto the plate.
- With a sharp knife, cut down the middle into two long pieces.
- Turn the two pieces onto their sides and repeat, then once more.
- (You’ll have eight long strips of cream cheese.)
- Cut each strip into four even (more or less) pieces.
- Push pieces apart gently with knife.
- Sprinkle salad dressing lightly over them — don’t soak, as you would with most marinades.
- Use a brush to spread the salad dressing gently over the exposed surfaces.
- It should look like the herbs in the dressing are part of the cream cheese, not a sauce sitting on top of them.
- Refrigerate an hour or up to overnight.
- If you want, sprinkle bacon bits on some or all of the cheese pieces before serving.
- Serve on crackers.