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).
Cream Cheese and Olives is a long-time family favorite. My mother would make this to take on road trips, because she could make sandwiches while we were driving without making a mess.
My favorite way to eat it is on Triscuit crackers. I have put it on toasted English Muffins, eaten it on whatever cracker was handy, and made little rolled sandwiches with white bread. In the fast and easy department, it doesn’t get much easier than two ingredients.
It makes an appearance at our annual sausage party (where friends and family gather to make lots of Italian sausage). It shows up in “Dying for Holiday Tea” with the green olive and red pimento giving Christmas color to snowy cream cheese.
Cream Cheese and Olives
Prep time: 10 minutes
Chill time: 30 minutes
1 8 oz package of cream cheese (I use Philadelphia Neufchatel cheese)
1/3 C green olives with pimento
1 T liquid from olive jar
In a bowl, place the brick of cream cheese. If using full fat cream cheese, let it come to room temp before making this. If using 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, it is soft enough to use right from the frig, but I usually let it soften for a bit anyway.
Chop the olives as finely or as coarsely as you prefer. I prefer using a knife, but to get a finer chop, I’ll use my chopper. Use a fork to mash the cream cheese, add the liquid from the olives, and add the chopped olives. Mix to combine. Put in a container and refrigerate.
The flavors develop best when chilled for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Sometimes I don’t want to wait that long, and adding the olive liquid helps give the cream cheese olive flavor before chilling. If I’m taking it to a party, I’ll make it the night before.
My husband was skeptical about this combination, but now he enjoys it. The picture below is from last year’s Sausage Party (Cream Cheese and Olives in the foreground, Caramelized Onion Dip is behind it). I’ll post recipes from this year’s Sausage Party closer to the date (usually the Saturday before Christmas; this year’s date to be determined.)