Spread gets the party started

Cranberries are the base of a delicious and easy appetizer.
Cranberries are the base of a delicious and easy appetizer. Chicago Tribune

How to contact the mailbox

If you have recipes in reply to Mailbox reader requests, or questions or comments, write to: Mailbox, c/o Taste, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. You also can email or fax (916)  321-1109. Please include your full name, your city and phone number.

Cranberry spread with cream cheese

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves 12

Kathi Gibler of Vancouver, Wash., was looking for an easy appetizer recipe to make for Thanksgiving.

Connie Lane of Penn Valley shared this recipe with The Bee several years ago. She recommended toasting the almonds until they are dark brown but not burned for best results.

Note: The prep time includes the 20-minute cool time for the cranberry mixture.

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

One 12-ounce package cranberries

3/4 cup apricot jam

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2/3 cup chopped almonds, toasted

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese

In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Add cranberries and cook until the berries pop and have thickened. Remove from heat and add the apricot jam and lemon juice. Let cool about 20 minutes and add the toasted nuts.

Put two blocks of cream cheese, one on top of the other, in a holiday dish with at least 1-inch sides. Pour the spread over the top and serve with crackers.