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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Smoked Cheese Spread with Sunflower Sesame Seed Crackers

 So Thanksgiving is around the corner. This is not another post for pumpkin pie or some marvelous side dish. In fact, this has nothing to do with the holiday at all. UNLESS, you have a family like mine. We skip breakfast on Thanksgiving day so we can partake of all the yumminess. Then we arrive at Nana's starving, with a table of appetizers spread before us. Among those goodies--a party in and of themselves--lie many dangers to the low carber. Sure the dips are legal, but the crackers and chips? And my guys never avail themselves to the crudites instead. So this year we are contributing to the appetizer spread with these two great go togethers.

Somewhere on Pinterest, I found a link to really old recipes, among them an all natural, additive free cheese spread. I wrote the main ingredients down on a recipe card, along with my intended changes, but I forgot to actually pin the site. Now I can't find it sorry, no credits. Since I can remember that it was really old, the recipe creator has most assuredly passed on by now. Sorry. I made so many changes, it is alike in theory and kitchen chemistry only, I think. In trying to find the source, I did learn some things about why the processed cheeses melt easily rather than releasing oils. Like I said, chemistry.

This spread is thinner than Velveeta when cold, though  very similar when both are melty hot. I wasn't really going for a sauce though, I wanted a spread that would hold its shape in lunch box travels. That I got. I used to add those Laughing Cow wedges. Kinda like that. My SCD boy can't have those...but he can have these! Woohoo! Why did my brain never tell me to use eggs to make this consistency? I certainly knew that eggs can be used as a thickener in sauces, but for some reason I never tried this before with cheese. Nowadays, companies just add chemical stabilizers and who knows what to our "processed" cheese. I am thinking this is better. I KNOW it is better. Even more, I was able to add some natural liquid smoke to make a great smokey flavor. You would think you were eating from a chemical and starch laden Hickory Farms basket.

This spread goes together really easily. All you have to do is be careful with the temperature. I think the original directions called for a double boiler. I was too lazy, and just stayed with the cheese and whisked a lot. Like continually. You can do it. It is worth it, I promise.

Smoked Cheese Spread

6 ounces Colby/Monterey Jack marbled cheese, shredded
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
1/2-1 tsp Wright's Liquid Smoke
2 beaten eggs

In a small saucepan, combine shredded cheese, water, mustard, salt, butter and liquid smoke. Over very low flame, stir constantly until the mixture is melted and free of lumps. Keep warm. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Remove sauce pan from heat and remove a few tablespoons of hot cheese to temper the eggs. After the cheese is incorporated, slowly add the egg mixture into the saucepan with cheese, stirring well after each addition. When all the egg is stirred in, place the sauce back on the stove and heat gently, stirring continuously, until mixture is thick...about 5 minutes.  Pour into a crock, cover and chill.

24 servings  at 39 calories   less than 1 carb

I poured some of ours into individual silicon cups so I could have lunch box servings. It stays spreadable and does not separate even if it comes to room temperature. Awesome stuff! (If you leave it sitting on the table, it will behave almost like a liquid and settle back to an even surface, but it is so slow, you can't see it happen. Does this make sense to you? I sounds like an experiment in plastics, huh?)

So now I have this delicious cheese spread, just waiting for something to spread it on. I thought about making almond thins, then remembered how low I am on almonds. I had purchased some raw sunflower nuts to try some variations on Mr. Peanut Bread. So I went a searching for cracker recipes, and found this jewel by Girl Gone Primal.  In this recipe, you use raw unsalted sunflower seeds, grind them up, add sesame seeds and some water. Then you press and roll them out and bake. They taste great and hold up really well. John loved them and even took some crackers and cheese to work to feed the nutrition expert who is visiting the station today. We will see what Dr. Asa thinks! We think they are gonna be great on the appetizer table.

P.S. Dr. Asa loved the cheese and crackers, btw.

Note: I have been playing around with different cheese blends for this. I have discovered not to take short cuts. I tried a pre-shredded Jack cheese, and it just sticks together in a big clump in the sauce pan. I had to take the immersion blender to it, and it still resulted in a grainier spread. I think the potato starches, though minimal, interfere with the melting texture. Hand shredded from a block melts beautifully. I tried a sharp cheddar, and it worked well. It required a little more stirring than the colby/jack blend, but tasted great. I added some Bacon Salt too. Wowzers is that tasty!

Update 3/26/14: I made this again with a half teaspoon of jalapeno seasoning. Love! While warm it is just like a Mexican Queso. Cool, it is spreadable and so flavorful!

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Ginny said...

What a great idea! I will have to use this for Christmas Eve. Thanks Lisa!

Jennifer [To PIN/share a Post, Click the 3 dots or the Red SAVE Button] said...

Wow, Lisa, that sounds incredible! I have to try this recipe of yours. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bruce said...

Thanks for a great blog
Weight loss Diet

Maria said...

What brand of natural peanut butter do you recommend?

Lisa Marshall said...

I like Smuckers.