Meet the Cook: Needing a quick appetizer one night when dinner was running late, I combined a few leftovers into this easy cheese ball. For variety, you can shape it into a log, or substitute favorite herbs for the pepper. My husband and I are the proud parents of two children, Kenton, 6, and Katie, 4.
-Tamara Rickard, Bartlett, Tennessee
Mary Steiner of West Bend, Wisconsin shares a make-ahead cracker spread that showcases thyme and garlic. "A neighbor who has an herb garden gave me the recipe," Mary writes. "It's simple to stir up and makes a special appetizer for company. It's also fun to serve at a party."
I had a similar dish in a restaurant in Seattle, and when I returned home I just had to try my hand at making it. This is the fantastic result. I've taken it to work for parties and my boss once commented, "It's so good, it must be illegal."—Jenny Rodriquez, Pasco, Washington
I was a theater major in college, and our director's mother always made sure we were well fed. I was particularly fond of her pimento cheese sandwiches and tried making a similar spread for crackers. It tastes just as good as I remember! —Katrina Jameson, Brandon, MS
Every family has a recipe they pull out time and again when the gang gathers, and goat cheese warmed in a marinara sauce is one of those household favorites. Minced basil and cracked black pepper give it that fresh and alive finish. —Jan Valdez, Chicago, Illinois