Modified from an Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC.com) online What's For Dinner recipe, made famous by Ann Sprague of Smyrna, who got the recipe from neighbor Velinda Warda. ---- NOTE: Serve this zesty spread chilled or at room temperature, or make into balls. Great with apple slices, celery sticks, tortilla chips, and/or crackers. I really like this spread with tortilla chips -- you get zesty, peppery-sweet, and salty!
- 1 1⁄2 cups pecans (measured, then toasted and chopped fine)
- 16 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened (lower fat Neufchatel suggested)
- 4 ounces blue cheese (crumbled)
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (grated ~ equals 1 cup)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large lemon, zest of (save lemon pulp or juice for another purpose)
- 1⁄4-1⁄2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
- 8 ounces chopped dates
- 1 1⁄2 cups pecans (if making into balls ~ Toasted and chopped fine) (optional)
- Measure 1 1/2 cups pecans (or double that amount if making cheese balls) into an large iron skillet, toasting over medium heat, stirring constantly ~ remove from heat and finely chop! (Or, preheat oven to 350 degrees ~ Spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast 5 minutes.).
- Set nuts aside; they will be added last!
- In a mixing bowl, combine (by hand or using an electric mixer), cream cheese, blue cheese cheddar cheese, salt, lemon zest, and freshly grated black pepper until fluffy!
- Stir in dates and 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans.
- For easier handling, chill for an hour to firm up, if making into cheese balls. Coat with additional toasted, chopped pecans.
- Serve this zesty spread (or balls) chilled, or at room temperature, with apple slices, celery sticks. tortilla chips, and/or crackers.
- NOTE: Cooking time is the chill time, although I thought the flavor greatly improved after chilling overnight! The recipe can easily be doubled to serve a larger number of people!