Easy Appetizers from a Block of Cream Cheese

New Year’s Eve is just around the corner.  Did you know that New Year’s Eve is one of the two biggest party times of the year for adults?  If you’re having guests over for an impromptu celebration, or if people are stopping by to hang out for a few minutes on their way to somewhere else, you may want to have something simple to snack on before the main event.  In that case, put together one of these simple low to no stress snacks and put it on your buffet, or coffee table, for your guests to snack on.  Each one takes about a minute to prepare and tastes delicious.  The best part is that each of these begins when you plop a block of cream cheese in the center of a plate then add toppings.

One of my favorites is a block of cream cheese with a jar of my favorite salsa poured over the top.  Truth be told, I usually pour about half of the 16 ounce bottle onto the cream cheese initially, then top it off with more as it’s eaten.  Served in a deep bowl nestled in the middle of a sea of tortilla chips, this is sure to please.  I recommend using a metal spoon or a wide knife as the serving implement for this one.  Without a serving tool, the chips just break off in the cream cheese and frustrate your guests.

Next up is another ridiculously simple snack.  You will need an 8 ounce block of cream cheese (or two) and a jar of pepper jelly.  Place the cream cheese onto a deep serving dish and top with pepper jelly.  Use a good spreading knife as the serving tool.  This one goes really well with buttery crackers like Ritz, Townhouse, or Club.  An alternative is to serve a dish with whipped cream cheese alongside the pepper jelly.

A block of cream cheese makes a great base for a shrimp cocktail inspired appetizer as well.  Top the cream cheese with a bottle of cocktail sauce, and sprinkle the top with small cooked shrimp.  Serve with your favorite crackers, and some celery sticks.

Lastly, you can serve up the cream cheese with some inexpensive caviar.  Jars of black, or red, lump-fish caviar can be found in most upscale grocery stores for under $10.  True connoisseurs of caviar will scoff at this purchase, but the combination of the salty little balls and the smooth cream cheese make a good pairing.  My favorite way to serve these is to have a dish with the cream cheese and a dish with the caviar.  A spreading knife in the cheese and a small spoon in the caviar.  (I actually use one of my children’s baby spoons to serve the caviar.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t have any Disney characters on it.)  I settle the two serving containers in the middle of a plate of buttery, round crackers, and people can serve themselves.  It’s fun to watch people taste caviar for the first time.

Give one or all of these suggestions a try and let us know what you think.  Thanks for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.

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