Family Favorite: Cream Cheese and Olives

Getting together with friends and family is always fun (okay, sometimes it’s more fraught than fun, but you know what I mean). Over the years I have accumulated recipes that have become favorites, and when we have them we share the memories of past times.

One of these dishes is Cream Cheese and Olives. When we grew up in New Jersey, we would drive to Maine during the summer to spend time with my great-grandparents. My mother would make Cream Cheese and Olive sandwiches during the drive. Now I make it to spread on crackers or to put on toasted English muffins.

The first time I made this after I met my husband, he was dubious about tasting it. He liked it, and now knows to expect it when we’re going to a party or if family is coming over.

This couldn’t be easier to make. I use an 8 oz package of 1/3 less fat cream cheese and let it soften at room temperature for about an hour. I use pimento-stuffed olives and chop them until they’re small enough to blend easily, but still chunky enough to let you know what’s been mixed with the cream cheese. I also add a teaspoon or two of olive juice to ramp up the olive flavor and make the cream cheese looser and easier to mix and spread.

I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight to let the flavors meld. To serve, I put it into a pretty serving dish and use a seasonal spreader or small knife to put the cream cheese and olives on crackers (my favorite are Triscuits).

This picture is from our annual Sausage Party (we make Italian sausage every year – more about that later in the year).

Fettuccine Pie

All of my mysteries include recipes that are in the story. My love of cooking began with my mother, who was a Home Economics major in college and then worked as a food stylist for an advertising agency before she had me and my sisters. She taught us to cook, bake, and sew as we were growing up.

The other night my husband and I had dinner at Carrabba’s. My Fettuccine Weesie was delicious, with tender shrimp sauteed in a white wine butter sauce with mushrooms, garlic and basil, and served over Fettuccine Alfredo. I had leftovers, and was happy to have another meal. To stretch it out a bit to serve both of us, I thought about what I could do and remembered Spaghetti Pie.

Spaghetti Pie is leftover spaghetti with marinara sauce that is heated up in a skillet before you pour beaten eggs over it, and cook it like a fritatta.

The Fettuccine Weesie was a solid mass of tastiness, so I put it in the skillet on low to warm it up enough so I could separate the strands of pasta. While it was warming up, I beat three eggs in a bowl. I didn’t season them, since the Fettuccine Weesie was plenty seasoned.

After the pasta was warmed through and the sauce loosened, I spread the noodles over the skillet in an even layer. I poured the eggs over everything, turned up the heat a bit, and covered the skillet. I cooked everything for about 5 minutes, until the bottom was browned. I slid the Fettuccine Pie onto the lid and flipped it over into the skillet to brown the other side, about another 2 minutes.

To serve, I put it on a cutting board and cut it into quarters.

Very tasty, fast and easy – my kind of dinner!