Passing a dish this holiday season? Get help from Taste of Home

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- If you're in charge of bringing a dish to pass this holiday season, pay attention. Mark Hagen with Taste of Home joined the Studio A crew to help you wow the crowd.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Taste of Home Cooking School.

Savory BLT Cheesecake

Did you know that cheesecake could be savory instead of sweet? Tomato and green onions mixed with cream cheese is like an irresistible form of gazpacho. Served on lettuce, the BLT version is great on its own, but it's also a tasty appetizer when served with crackers. This is a flexible recipe, so use other cheese in place of the Gruyere, and add olives, crab meat, cooked mushrooms - whatever strikes your fancy. —Joni Hilton, Rocklin, California

Prep: 35 min. Bake: 45 min. + chilling


      Preheat oven to 325°. Place a greased 9-in. springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan.
      In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and butter. Press onto the bottom of prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

      In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and cream until smooth. Beat in the bacon, tomatoes, Gruyere cheese, onions and pepper. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour over crust. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of boiling water to larger pan.

      Bake 45-55 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool cheesecake on a wire rack 10 minutes; loosen edges from pan with a knife. Cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

      Remove rim from pan. Serve cheesecake with toppings and crackers if desired. Yield: 24 servings.

      Nutrition Facts: 1 slice (calculated without toppings and crackers) equals 248 calories, 21 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 99 mg cholesterol, 438 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 9 g protein.

      Smoked Gouda & Bacon Potatoes

      A hearty, special appetizer you'll need to eat with a fork! Creme fraiche gives these bites a decadent flavor. —Cheryl Perry, Hertford, North Carolina

      Prep: 50 min. Bake: 10 min.

        Remove papery outer skin from garlic (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut tops off of garlic bulbs. Brush with oil. Wrap each bulb in heavy-duty foil. Bake at 425° for 30-35 minutes or until softened. Cool for 10-15 minutes.

        Meanwhile, place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or just until tender. Cut bacon strips in half widthwise. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until partially cooked but not crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; keep warm.

        Preheat oven to 375°. Place a tablespoonful of cheese on the cut side of a potato half. Wrap with a half-strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat. Sprinkle appetizers with pepper. Bake 10-15 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

        For sauce, squeeze softened garlic into a food processor. Add creme fraiche and cilantro; cover and process until blended. Serve with potatoes. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen (2 cups sauce).

        Nutrition Facts: 1 appetizer with about 1 tablespoon sauce equals 161 calories, 13 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 30 mg cholesterol, 169 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 4 g protein.

        Holiday Cheese Ball

        Andrea Bolden from Unionville, Tennessee writes, "With its colorful flecks of green onion and pimiento, this cheese ball is great as a Christmas or New Year's appetizer. It can be made with fat-free cheeses without sacrificing the zesty Italian taste."

        Prep: 15 min. + chilling

          In a small bowl, combine first seven ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

          Shape into a ball; roll in walnuts. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

          Serve with toasted French bread slices, crackers and/or vegetables. Yield: 1 cheese ball.

          Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (2 tablespoons) equals 156 calories, 14 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 26 mg cholesterol, 101 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g protein.