Cream cheese is a great additive for more than just a bagel spread. You can take plain old cream cheese and use it to liven up many meals and desserts to create unique, yummy meals!
Take regular cream cheese (if you buy it in large amounts, even better) and divide into separate storage containers. If you love cream cheese for bagels and pita spreads, you can make different flavors to enjoy without spending money buying novelty flavors at the store. For fruity cream cheeses, add a few teaspoons of jams or jelly and mix thoroughly. Add more cream cheese or jam (raspberry, strawberry and blueberry are favorites) to suit your taste. Put lids on the storage containers and label them according to flavor. One package of cream cheese can make 3 different flavors (2-3 oz each).
You can also use cream cheese to make cracker spreads and chip dips. Jalapeno, tomato slices, onion, chive, garlic, bacon bits, pepper, Parmesan cheese, etc can be added to separated sections of a single block of cream cheese to make dips and spreads. Refried beans, salsa, and olives can be mixed with cream cheese to make an excellent chip dip, hot or cold, and you can even add lime or lemon juice to liven the flavor. Add whatever you’d like to make a saltier, filling spread.
Cream cheese when added to mashed potatoes makes them creamy and delicious. Add chopped chives and garlic and you’ve got a creamy batch of whipped potatoes. Cream cheese is most excellent in helping instant potatoes have more oomph.
Add a few teaspoons of cream cheese to your spaghetti sauce to make a creamy marinara without thinning the sauce. Where you would normally use heavy whipping cream or half and half, use cream cheese, which is less fattening and adds amazing creamy (and slightly cheesy) flavor to your sauce.
Cream cheese is also great in replace of ricotta cheeses for lasagna and stuffed shells as it provides a strong flavor and creamy texture.
When using store-bought frosting for cakes, add a tablespoon of cream cheese and blend into the frosting. This gives an excellent flavor boost, makes the frosting taste more home-made, allows the frosting to spread easier, and gives it more bulk. Yummy!
There are many things you can do with cream cheese beyond the boring stand-by of using it on bagels. You can doctor up this yummy spread any way you want. Keep in mind, when freezing cream cheese it will retain flavor, but when thawed will be thick and grittier in texture, so it is best to buy what you will use to avoid freezing it if you enjoy it for the texture.