This cheese spread is easy to make and better than store-bought. Credit: Sandy Oliver | BDN

No doubt that it is handy to open a jar and spread some cheese spread on a cracker or spoon it into a bowl to serve with raw vegetables and crackers. But there’s a better way. For the 15 minutes or so that it takes to make your own, plus the opportunity to season it to your personal taste, a homemade cheese spread is the way to go.

This recipe has been kicking around in my “try this” file for a couple years, but it took a handful of friends showing up to prompt me to make it. I needed just a little bit of an appetizer and this fit the bill perfectly. I always have cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sour cream on hand. The smoked paprika is fairly new to the spice shelf, but has earned a place in my heart. The chipotle powder gets used sparingly, but it gives a nice bit of heat without hurting. Add cumin or chili powder.

You could also go the herbal route with the seasoning using dill, chives, garlic and parsley.

So assembling ingredients was a snap. The food processor does the rest of the work: the cheese grating and then the job of whirling everything together.

It was so easy. It is so tasty. Use it for a dip with crudités or crackers or as a sandwich spread.

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Spread

Yields about 2 cups

8 ounces of sharp cheddar, grated

4 ounces cream cheese

1/3 cup of mayonnaise

1/3 cup of sour cream

2 cloves of garlic pureed with garlic press

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (or plain paprika)

¼ teaspoon chipotle powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and spreadable.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...