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Holidays Can be Sweet Without Sugar

Pretty cheese wreath makes a great gift or family snack.

Got cookies? I know I do. And candy. And pastries. And fruitcake. And chocolate-covered anything-you-can-think-of. 'Tis the season to be overloaded with sweets and the closer it gets to Christmas, the more sugar shows up at your door.

Not that I'm complaining or saying you should slam the door in the face of the next neighbor who comes over with a tray of gingerbread men. That would just be rude. What I am suggesting is that — because everyone else is handing out cookies, fudge, and chocolate-covered pretzels — you do something different.

That may be easy for me to say because, I must confess, I don't have a sweet tooth. I've gone months without so much as a nibble of anything sweet and not missed it at all. My weakness is the salty snacks -- .

Regardless, even if you love sugar so much you could live on it, at this time of year I think anything besides a sweet would be a welcome change.  As I've written in previous columns, our family has .

But every once in a while we like to add something new just for fun. Last year my daughter and I decided that something new would be a homemade cheese ball. In looking for a recipe, we found the Party Cheese Wreath on the Kraft foods website.

We were already big fans of Kraft recipes because, in general, they're easy and healthy and taste good. I had a subscription to Kraft's quarterly print magazine for years and I still have my back copies in a magazine folder in my cookbook cupboard. The name of the magazine was Food and Family. How perfect, because, really, ?

But I digress, back to the wreath. In essence it is a cheese ball, but instead of being shaped into a ball, it is shaped into a wreath.  Although we made it for our family party, it occurred to me that it would make a terrific dish to take to a holiday party or to give as a neighbor gift.

It's pretty, it tastes good, and it might just help level out those blood sugar levels. Put it on a pretty tray to leave as a hostess gift, and you'll be the most popular gift-giver since Santa ... hopefully without that big jelly belly that comes from eating too many sweets.

Recipe: Party Cheese Wreath

Ingredients:

  • 2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 pkg.  (8 oz.) Kraft Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped onions
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped red bell peppers
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Dash ground red pepper (cayenne)

Directions:

  1. Beat cream cheese and cheddar cheese in small bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
  2. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Cover. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
  3. Place drinking glass in center of serving platter. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of cheese mixture around glass, just touching outer edge of glass to form ring; smooth with spatula. Remove glass.
  4. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and additional red bell pepper, if desired. Serve with assorted crackers or breadsticks.

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