Monday, September 6, 2010

Easy Appetizer: Sun Dried Tomato Cheese Tray

We were up at the Lake this weekend at my in-law's house and we had family and friends staying over. Aaron's aunt and uncle hosted a steak dinner for their daughter's birthday and I made an appetizer tray and a veggie casserole with cauliflower, kale, peppers, and tomato slices with a Parmesan Bechamel sauce. I can't give you the recipe for the sauce because I didn't keep track of measurements, but it was thick from the roux and I added high quality parmesan cheese with grated nutmeg, paprika, crushed garlic, and salt and pepper. I poured it on top of the vegetables in a casserole dish and baked it in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes. It was delicious, colorful and nutritious!

The appetizer tray that I made was super simple. It's was a Sun Dried Tomato Cheese Spread with Crackers, cut celery and baby carrots. I prefer sun dried tomatoes stored in olive oil and my favorite pick is from Trader Joe's because they are julienne cut so they are easy to use. I like to put sun dried tomatoes in pasta with peas and shrimp for example.

I made this cheese spread from scratch and it took about 10 minutes to put together including cutting the celery. It was super easy and it was ALL GONE! I should have taken a picture before I served it, but the gang was pretty hungry. You can make it ahead really easy and pack the cheese spread in a serving dish with plastic wrap before a party.

  • Two boxes - 80z cream cheese softened (leave out for about 1-hr)
  • 1/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Optional - minced black olive
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with a spatula until evenly distributed. Transfer to serving dish. Serve with a variety of crackers and vegetables such as celery, carrots, or pepper strips. That's it!

**If you only can get sun dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil, you will have to rehydrate the tomatoes in hot water and steam them in a bowl covered in plastic wrap until they are tender. Then chop. You might want to toss them in a drizzle of olive oil for better flavor also.

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