Have some cream cheese hanging out in your fridge? Put it to work with these smart ideas.
cream cheese
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Cream cheese isn't just for bagels and cheesecake. Here are five delicious ways to use cream cheese in recipes to make them a little creamier and dreamier.

1. Lasagna Change-Up

For a richer, creamier lasagna, try replacing the ricotta cheese with cream cheese. For a 9x13-inch pan, use an 8-oz. package of cream cheese, cubed and softened, instead of a 15-oz. carton of ricotta. Proceed with your recipe as directed.

2. Cheater Carbonara

Using milk and cream cheese in place of eggs makes for an extra-creamy carbonara. Cook 8 oz. linguine according to package directions; add 1 cup frozen peas in the last minute of cooking. Drain and keep warm in a bowl. Meanwhile, cook 5 slices bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat; transfer to paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in skillet. Add 1 clove minced garlic; sauté 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and stir in 1 cup milk and 4 oz. cream cheese until blended. Crumble bacon and add to pasta along with sauce and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese; stir to coat. Serves 4.

3. Quick-Mash Cauliflower

Try mashed cauliflower for a low-carb side dish in place of mashed potatoes: Microwave 4 cups chopped cauliflower with 2 Tbsp. water in a bowl until tender, 6 to 7 minutes. (Do not drain.) Add 4 oz. cubed cream cheese and 1 Tbsp. butter. Mash until smooth. Stir in 2 chopped green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

4. Creamy Deviled Eggs

You can make your deviled eggs a hit by using cream cheese. Halve 6 hard-cooked eggs lengthwise; transfer yolks to a small bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in 2 oz. softened cream cheese and 1 tsp. each yellow mustard and cider vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Fill egg-white halves with yolk mixture. Top with a few strips of lox-style smoked salmon and chopped fresh chives. Makes 12.

5. Cheesy Taco Sweet Potatoes

Give sweet potatoes a makeover worthy of a TV cooking show. Bake two 10-oz. sweet potatoes in a 350°F oven until tender, about 50 minutes. Cook 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1/2 cup each chopped onion and green bell pepper in a skillet until beef is no longer pink. Stir in 1/2 cup salsa and 1 tsp. taco seasoning. Halve potatoes lengthwise and spoon flesh into a bowl. Stir in 4 oz. cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. milk, and salt and pepper to taste; mash to combine, then spoon into potato skins. Top with beef mixture; 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese; and chopped tomato, avocado, or cilantro. Serves 4.

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2020 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.