Janet's Notebook
Pass the Cheese: A Cook Comes Clean

Montra Crabtree's Cream Cheese Tarts

Having the pleasure of trying so many of your recipes on a regular basis, I've come to really appreciate all kinds of unfamiliar flavors and ingredients. I've encountered all types of goodies, and have rarely come up against anything in this great food universe of ours that I didn't enjoy at least trying. That said, I have one very obvious, make-no-bones-about, plain as day food bias that I just have to own up to: I LOVE cheese. There, I said it. Cheese just makes everything better, plain and simple. A sprinkling of Parmesan turns "Pasta again?!" into "More, please!", and a wedge of fresh cheddar will forever be my favorite cracker topper when hunting down a midnight snack.

Are you with me?!

Well, Melanie Young of Gardendale, AL sure jumped feet first into my fromage Fan Club with her recipe for creamy Cheddar Cheese Risotto. This Blue Ribbon stand-out takes what may otherwise feel like an intimidating dish and turns it into an accessible recipe that delivers memorable flavor. Use pre-shredded cheddar as a time-saver and you've got a super cheesy dish that can be served as a side or paired with a green salad for a filling main course. It's one of my new favorites for cold-weather eating.

Another shining star on our table these days is Beth Streeter's Peppery Brie en Croute. (I believe that translates to "so yummy I could eat the whole thing" in English.)

"A fancy name, for a fancy appetizer that is SO EASY to make. Just 4 ingredients," says Beth! "You are sure to impress with this. Great for the holidays!"

The Kitchen Crew and I love the concept that delicious can also be easy. Here, Beth has created a simple recipe that can effortlessly outshine anything from a fancy ol' restaurant. Nutty melted cheese, prepared crescent roll dough, and a kick of hot sauce. Goodness gracious, what's not to love?

And finally, kudos to the wise man or woman (ok, chances are it was a woman...) from days of old who first realized cheese has a place on the dessert platter too. Without cheesecake my dinner table would be a sadder place, and I thank you folks for sweetening up my recipe repertoire!

Jenny Curtis of Owingsville, KY knocks dessert up several notches, in fact, with her ultra-decadent Double Chocolate Cheesecake. Chocolate cake and chocolate pudding surrounding rich, creamy cheesecake? I'll take two, please. With a cherry on top.

For your on-the-go cheesecake needs, London, KY's Montra Crabtree has you covered. One bite of her delightfully cheerful individual Cream Cheese Tarts will have you reaching for a second.

"These are so easy, and they look and taste like you worked hard," explains Montra.

As it happens, we've "fooled" more than one dinner guest with these pretty little show-stoppers. The combination of vanilla cookies, cream cheese and prepared pie filling is a snap to throw together, and make for a tart so delicate and light when they hit the table that your family will think you spent hours on them. Easy cheesy!

Ah yes, I could go on forever about the versatility of cheese - both sweet and savory - but I've got recipes to prepare! Don't forget to tell us about your own favorite cheesy dishes too. There's simply no such thing as too many recipes.... or too much cheese.

Happy cooking!

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Brittany Clapp - Nov 9, 2010
I LOVE CHEESE! There we go! I said it!! And I agree whole heartedly.. that cheese almost always makes something better! Thanks for the cheesy support here (waah waah waaahh wahhhh)

Have a wonderful day!

Brittany (Coleman's Mommy)
Kay Lott - Nov 9, 2010
The picture of the tart says it all....Yummmmm..cheese....
NADINE REID - Nov 9, 2010
Any cheesy questions? Consult the Wisconsin Cheese Board... eatwisconsincheese.com

Note to Pat: I know they have a blue cheese recipe featured right now, but there are others :-)
pat hinegardner - Nov 9, 2010
Hey cheese lover, I am one too. Love that cheese, do not like blue cheese though. lol