Christmas Eve Buffet Cheese Ball

So I think this year, I might subject friends and family to my odd sense of nostalgia and hope I, the one who has this in my memory, am not disappointed.

For some reason, known only to herself (she never did explain it), my mother left me in charge of deciding the food for Christmas Eve. Not the making in all, or even most, cases, but the deciding. In our family which was rather large even though is was just my 3 siblings, me, my parents, and our older siblings kids, we opened presents from each other on Christmas Eve, so it was a night of perpetual snacking and in my case eating enough vanilla taffy to almost (almost, but not quite), make myself sick. Oh, and fudge too. And I don’t even like fudge (Groundhog Day.)

D&D_1499This was one of the things that I wanted every year and also made myself – not exactly difficult even though we had no food processor or mini chopper. You just did it the old fashioned way, by hand – no harm in that. I have no idea where this came from, but in my made-up back-story for it, it was a contribution to a local newspaper from some woman who would call herself by her husband’s name, you know what I mean. Instead of Mary Smith, she would be Mrs. John Smith, like she didn’t have an existence outside of him – yes, going off the rails here a bit, but that kind of thing just makes me slightly crazy.

Here 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.

Several questions arise – the first being do they still make dried beef in those odd little jars (not that I could tell, and I looked), where is it in the store if they do and what are my other options? I’m thinking pan fried proscuitto minced.
Also – only 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar. First, must be Cabot seriously sharp, but needs to be orange for color contrast and it will most certainly be more than 1/2 a measly cup. Please.
I will taste and check the horseradish level, but must be careful not to blow everyone’s palate. I tend to like just a click more horseradish than most people.

What I did make –

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded at room temperature
3 Tbs well drained horseradish
1 cup minced dried cranberries
3 scallions minced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coating:
1 Tbs chives, minced
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries, minced

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, and horseradish until well combined. Add in cranberries, scallions, and pecans. Roll into a ball and cover with plastic and chill until firm.

When ready to serve, mix coating ingredients in a wide bowl, and roll cheese ball in to cover, pressing in as necessary. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

23 December 2017 – for Christmas Eve.
Never hurts to try something new, esp. if it is really good – and um, it was.

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

 

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

Holiday Cheese Balls (Cook’s Country)

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Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball

Going to take a look back at some of my older editions of Cook’s Country magazine and America’s Test Kitchen magazine to see what will come up in a seasonal kind of way.  So, first up – Cook’s Country Jan 2011, as in the title of this post.

Okay – I made this original recipe for Christmas and divided it in half for a friend who admits to liking cheese balls and to get input. This went very well – all participants in the experiment were pleased with the cheese ball.

Cheese Ball (AKA: Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball)

  • 2 cups extra sharp cheddar, grated
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 sliced almonds, toasted

Process all ingredients (except nuts) in food processor until smooth, scraping down sides (a given) about 1 minute. (my notes: whirl up garlic first to mince it – so much easier) Transfer to center of large piece of cling film.

Holding corners of the cling film in one hand, twist the cheese with the other hand to seal the film and shape the cheese into a rough ball. Refrigerate until firm, about one hour (can be refridgerated  for two days). Once the cheese ball is firm, reshape as necessary  into smooth sphere.  Unwrap and roll in nuts. (I used pecans since they are local). Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

13 Dec 2014 (or 12/13/14) divided in two for my friend Traci. Reports were good

Served 21 Dec 2014 – family really liked. Am pleased.

Now that I’ve seen the original in Cook’s Country magazine there is another variation that I would like to try and I’ll likely share with my friend Traci and her family again. I mean you have to be cool to say that you like a cheese ball. It’s a little dorky, but … come on, for New Year’s – who is going to be a critic then. If they are, they are not your friend.

Beer Cheese Ball

Cheddar cheese ball without mayonnaise, Worcestershire and cayenne. Add 3 Tbs beer and 1 tsp yellow mustard in food processor.  Replace nuts with 1/2 cup crushed pretzels.

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Beer Cheese Ball

7 January 2015

Made a full recipe to divide between me and my friend Traci and her family. Shaped it and chilled overnight yesterday. Coated with pretzel crisps – not quite real pretzels, but I like them (and had them on hand) and mixed with a few pecan pieces.  I used a bit more mustard than was called for, but it seemed like it needed it (to me) and used the now rare, at least in our area, Sweet Hot Mister Mustard. A true delicacy.