Mini Cheese Ball Bites

So this was a new appetizer for Thanksgiving  but for me it plays into my holiday thing. Holidays call for cheese balls – yes, they do, because I used to make a cheese ball when I was all of 12 years-old for our Christmas smorgasbord – my name for our Christmas Eve feast thing. I have tried to advance my cheese ball experience to go way beyond my immature 12 year-old self. I mean dried beef was involved.* Ugh.  But now that I think about it – what would it be like to try that recipe several decades later? Would it be good or would the food snob in me completely revolt. I am not sure and little scared to try to be honest. I still have that recipe, so who knows what might happen.

This recipe has lots of my favorite flavors: bleu cheese, cranberries, pecans. Those flavors are holidays to me. Especially with our local pecans, just harvested this fall – they are so sweet and totally set off the saltiness of the bleu cheese. Also, I am hard pressed to ever turn down a dried cranberry. [See: Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies]dd_1693

I do love that the base of this can be made ahead – the cream cheese, bleu cheese, cranberry part. Then the day of, make the mini cheese bites, roll in top quality local pecans and add that little pretzel skewer. Excellent. This will also make this recipe in a regular sized cheese ball to go with bread or crackers. May have to do this for the next pot luck at work. We shall see.

8 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
4 ozs bleu cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup dried cranberries, finely minced
1 1/2 cup pecans, minced
pretzel sticks

In a bowl, mix together bleu cheese and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in cranberries. Refrigerate until firm. Using a spoon, scoop into tablespoon sized balls. Refrigerate again until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pecan pieces in oven for 7 – 10 minutes, until fragrant. Allow pecans to cool. Roll chilled cheese balls in pecans. Keep balls refrigerated.

Just before serving, skewer each cheese ball with a pretzel stick. 

Do Ahead: Make the cream cheese, bleu cheese, cranberry mixture and cover, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, toast the pecans, roll the cheese balls in them, and add the pretzel sticks.

* Here it is for posterity’s sake.

8 ozs  cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, room temperature
3 Tbs well-drained horseradish
1/4 cup finely chopped dried beef

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, horseradish until well blended. Make into a ball and chill. Roll in dried beef until covered. Chill several hours. Let sit at room temperature before serving. Serve with Triscuits or whatever crackers you like, but when I was 12, Triscuits is what I did. And everyone else did too.

2016 – A Year Ago – Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

 

January – March 2016 – Food “Holidays” Recap

Super Bowl – February 7

Spiced Pecans * Roast Beef Horseradish Sandwich * Bacon-wrapped Fruit Bites * Buffalo Rolls * Proscuitto Fontina Pinwheels * Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Torte *

Mardi Gras Pot Luck – February 9

Mardi Gras Sugar Cookies *  Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Torte *

Margarita Day – February 22

Leap Day – February 29

Apple Carrot Cupcakes *

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Apple Carrot Muffins – slightly amazing. And, no. I’m not bragging.

Pi Day – March 14

Apple Walnut Pie *

Butter Pie Crust *

St Patrick’s Day – March 17

Guinness Brownies *

Easter – March 27

Not sure yet, but I have a few days to sort it out. Yikes.


Cheddar Pecan Crisps

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Cheddar Pecan Crisps

Cheddar crackers are some of my favorite things in the world. I make them year round, eat the for breakfast (yep totally), lunch, snack, or dinner. There are several things though, that I require of my cheddar crackers. First, nuts of some kind, then heat, typically cayenne because the heat comes a little late so you get to taste the cheese/nuts first. After that, I have things I enjoy, such as some herbal components, particularly rosemary, sometimes a little dried fruit – it makes sense on a cheese board it should make sense in a cracker.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 ozs cheddar, grated, big holes on the box grater
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup pecans, finely chopped

Sift together salt, cayenne, and all-purpose flour over a sheet of waxed paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and cheddar in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth, then add in the dry ingredients. Add in the pecans.

Roll into rounded teaspoons of dough and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet inches apart. Flatten into 1 1/2″ disk with the bottom of a glass or the back of a spoon and bake until golden, 15 – 18 minutes.

Yield: 50 crackers sort of…. well, not really.

No idea where this recipe came from, and it is pretty much altered from the original recipe.

I think you can substitute walnuts for pecans in this recipe. This isn’t always the case, but in this instance, it would work. Pecans are a little sweeter and they are local and so fresh, so that’s what I go with. I don’t typically substitute red pepper flakes for cayenne. But I might try Aleppo pepper next time.

10 Nov 2002
10 May 2009 – Mom’s Day
14 Nov 2015 – cheese crackers for me and there it is.

Fall / Thanksgiving planning

I guess it is time to start thinking about the fall baking/cooking season and, dum dum dum … Thanksgiving. It seems that Thanksgiving always sneaks up on me. Because it does not get cold here, really, until after January. I’m still wearing opened toe sandals for heavens’ sake.  I can’t imagine doing Canadian Thanksgiving – October 12th. Too soon for us in the South, but not too soon for them, I suppose. Good on you!

And here are the things I am thinking about:

Down-sizing recipes – for a few of us that is what will happen. How do you scale down cornbread dressing? I have no idea. Depending on what family stays, what family and friends are coming into town, and what family goes to others out of town, it makes a difference in planning. But there are certain things that just must happen for Thanksgiving. Cranberry relish – yes!

Why not biscuits for Thanksgiving? Hello, we are in the south – yep. Drop biscuits are my favorite. Sour Cream drop biscuits instead of my usual Parker House rolls.

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Sweet Potato Biscuits with ham and horseradish cream

I think I need a new filling for my sweet potato biscuits. I love them the way they are, (with ham and horseradish cream} but I think I must come up with something new. But I do think horseradish will be involved. It is a stupidly great combination.

Something with corn – I’m thinking a corn soufflé which could be really cool.

Some kind of apple dessert – slab pie, maybe? Or this apple cake “Tatin” thing?  Did that this month, and … so amazing. You can read about here.

A Fall Salad – with apples, pecans, some spinach and, in my perfect world, mandarin oranges. Yep.

Do hate all the pumpkin crap,,, Guess that is, mostly, because everyone goes all pumpkin crazy beginning in August. It is just way over kill. And the taste is largely meh. But apparently I’m in the minority on this one. I just don’t get it.

Another cheeseball experiment …

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Pineapple Cheeseball Excellent photo – yep! That’s the MotH!

I think I have a cheeseball problem. But I don’t think that is a bad thing. Growing up, we had a cheeseball always at Christmas, but no other time. That seems a shame really because they are great year-round. Especially now in the awful heat of summer – easy dinner with crackers. Right? Yep.

Pineapple Cheese Ball
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
8 ozs onion & chive cream cheese, softened
8 ozs crushed pineapple, drained
1 tsp garlic powder
1 scallion, finely diced
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
2 cups extra sharp cheddar, shredded

Mix together cream cheese, onion & chive cream cheese, crushed pineapple, and garlic powder. Stir in the scallion, pecans, and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar. Shape into one or two balls and roll in remaining cheddar cheese.* Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.

*You may need extra cheddar if making two cheeseballs. You can also roll the cheeseball in pecans instead, but you will need more pecans.

I think I love these new Triscuit crackers – fire roasted tomatoes and olive oil – love them! Yep, I said love twice — so Triscuit you need to sponsor me because one of my favorite things is a Triscuit with cream cheese and hot pepper jelly – homemade hot pepper jelly, of course.

Is cheeseball one word or two? Me and spell check have differences on this and it is funny. Many thanks to Melissassouthernstylekitchen.com/2014/12/pineapple-cheeseball.html for the recipe. I think next time I will try pineapple tidbits – strange word – tidbits. But there it is. And a minced onion and chives instead of the flavored creamed cheese – I think it will work and will make my friends happy because I always share my cheese balls

Spiced Candied Pecans

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Spiced Pecans

This recipe is different from any other spiced/candied nut method that I have seen, so I was totally curious to see if it worked. Also, it has the added benefit of making me go, for the first time, to (apparently the only) Korean market in Pensacola, which was pretty fun – esp. since I had no idea of the language – hardly surprising, but loved the store clerk who took pity on me and helped.

This recipe is from Michael Gulotta and his restaurant MoPho in New Orleans

Spiced Candied Pecans

2 cups + 1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp + 1/2 Korean chile flakes (gochugaru)
2 cups pecans

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups water, salt, turmeric, and 1 tsp chile flakes. Once the sugar and salt are dissolved, add pecans. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the pecans boil for 5 minutes. Then carefully remove them from the simple syrup and spread them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Toss them with sugar and 1/2 cup chile flakes, and place them in the over for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to promote even browning.

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Spiced Candied Pecans

source: Michael Gulotta via Garden & Gun

Trying something new. Gochugaru. Korean red chili flakes. I totally love this and it was a big hit at the office (my test subjects) – but I think they, pretty much, like, at least I hope they do, being test subjects.