Tuesday, December 3, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Treats Day 2: Cheese Ball

     On Christmas Eve every year, we continue a tradition my Mom started when I was a kid. We sit in the dark, listen to Christmas music, sing carols, read the Bible, and eat like it's going out of style. When I was a kid, a never ending parade of homemade cookies marched into our bellies followed by multiple eggnog chasers. When my husband and I were first married, I wanted to continue the tradition, but I knew that Christmas Eve was going to be when my hubby wrapped all my gifts. So I made him a tray. It had a cheese ball, crackers, and sausages as well as a few cookies because I had arranged to be out for a few hours with a friend to give him some privacy and since it was dinnertime, he'd need some nourishment.  Over the years, the cookie tray has reverted to a more cookie-centric theme, but the cheese ball has stayed. My husband absolutely loves cheese balls. That first year, I bought one from a store, never having actually eaten one before. Once I got a mouthful though, I realized that in the future, homemade was the way to go.   I've made several recipes through the years, but this is the one I've come to like best.

12 Days of Christmas Treats Day 2: Homemade Cheese Ball perfect for any party

Easy Cheese Ball
Yield: 1 Ball
8 oz cream cheese, softened (I like Beecher's Blank Slate*, but regular cream cheese will do)
1 1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 heaping Tbs green onions, greens and whites (about 1 green onion)
1/8 tbs finely chopped rosemary
1/4 C Sliced almonds

Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, onion, and rosemary, mixing well until thoroughly combined.  (Hands work best for this.)  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to two days.  Form cheese mixture into a ball and roll to coat in almonds.

*Beecher's is a local cheese maker, though they do now have some shops in New York.  If you are using Beecher's, use a medium cheddar, since it is a little stronger than most cream cheese.

12 Days of Christmas Treats Day 2: Mini Cheese Balls individual cheese balls on pretzel sticks

This same recipe makes about a dozen mini cheese balls which are delicious rolled in finely chopped pecans and served with a pretzel stick.  Do not insert pretzels until just before serving as they can get soggy in the fridge.

This is a nice ball, not too overpowering but still very flavorful.  Tweak it by adding some thyme or a little honey.  I've even had a cheese ball with pineapple in it which is pretty good, too!  Oh, and this just happens to go perfectly with the homemade Ritz crackers from yesterday!

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