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Blue cheese spread satisfies cravings

| Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009

Got the holiday blues?

When you're in the mood for a decadent dip, a nip of blue cheese is sure to please.

Go ahead. Indulge in a smidgeon of high-fat high jinks. If you watch your portion size, an intensely flavorful starring ingredient can help satisfy your cravings for rich, creamy foods without the guilt.

Blue Cheese Spread uses skim cottage cheese, low-fat cream cheese and fat-free evaporated milk as a rich and creamy backdrop for the bolder, more pungent blue cheese. Top off with a sprinkling of crumbled low-fat turkey bacon bits and green onions. Spread on low-fat crackers.

Now that's an elegant appetizer worth singing about.

Shopping tips: When spotlighting a single ingredient, buy the highest quality item you can afford. While blue cheese "crumbles" are inexpensive and readily available, it's just as easy to crumble your own by hand.

Blue cheeses include gorgonzola, Roquefort and stilton. Danish blue cheese varieties are most widely available in supermarkets but are saltier than creamy Maytag blue made in Iowa.

Because blue cheese has a strong aroma, be sure to store it in an airtight container.

Cooking tips: For extra-crispy turkey bacon, cook in the microwave instead of on the stovetop. Be sure to layer the dish with paper towels to sop up the grease.

Serving tips: For a festive holiday presentation, hollow out cherry tomatoes, fill each with dip, then garnish with bacon and green onion.

Use the dip to stuff mushroom caps; place filled mushroom caps on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until hot throughout. Garnish with bacon and green onions.

The dip also may be served chilled with crisp vegetables.

Blue Cheese Spread

• 1/4 cup 1 percent or skim cottage cheese

• 3 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles

• 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, cut into cubes

• 2 tablespoons fat-free evaporated skim milk

• 2 slices turkey bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

• 1 green onion, chopped (green part only)

• Low-fat crackers

Blend the cottage cheese in a mini food processor or blender until it is smooth. Spoon it into a microwave-safe, 4-cup bowl. Add the blue cheese, cream cheese and evaporated milk. Microwave on high (100 percent power) for 1 to 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the mixture is heated through, stirring midway through cooking. (If mixture is lumpy, return to the mini processor or blender and blend until it is smooth.)

Pour into a small, 1 cup crock or bowl and garnish with bacon and green onions.

Serve warm with crackers.

Makes 2/3 cup or 6 appetizer servings

Nutrition information per 2-tablespoon serving: 77 calories (58 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 19 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 283 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.

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