This is a perfect appetizer for a Southwestern-theme party, especially for the Holidays! The best part is, you can make it ahead, and you can "heat" it up to suit your taste.
Recipe published in Chile Pepper Magazine (11/99)
Serves 12-16, depending on how small you slice it

1 sleeve Ritz crackers (36 crackers; 1-1/2 cups)
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 packages cream cheese (8 oz.each) -- softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons grated onions
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large garlic cloves -- minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons packaged taco seasoning mix
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup bottled chunky salsa
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

CRUST: Finely crush crackers in a food processor or blender. Place in a small bowl; add butter and mix well. Press evenly into bottom of 9-inch springform pan; refrigerate while preparing filling.

FILLING: Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat in eggs once at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in salt, white pepper, onion, sugar, garlic, lime juice and taco seasoning; beat until well-blended. By hand, fold in salsa and cilantro; pour filling into prepared crust. Bake 60 minutes or until cheesecake is slightly browned on top. Remove to cool on a wire rack. Chill overnight before serving.

Copyright 2004 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved