Sunday, April 11, 2010

Havin' a Ball

My friend Jeannine from Canada is coming for her annual visit in a few days. Since we're wine and cheese gals I've been doing some prep work. Have you ever bought a cheese ball at the store? Eh, they're okay. Have you ever made a cheese ball at home? Well there's no comparison to the store bought and totally worth the small effort it takes. Here's my recipe.

Three Cheese Ball
1 8 oz package Neufchatel cheese- it's cream cheese with 1/3 less fat
1 12 oz package Wispride sharp cheddar (spreadable) cheese- I try to look for low fat since I can't tell the difference
1 6 oz package crumbled blue cheese

Unwrap cheeses from packaging and place in a large bowl at room temperature to soften. Cover with plastic wrap. Sometimes softening can take one to two hours. When soft, mix cheeses together until they are combined. I use a heavy spoon, rubber spatula and some good elbow grease. When the cheeses are well incorporated (don't hurt any limbs doing this) put the softened mixture in the refrigerator to harden slightly. A half hour or so.

When the mixture has hardened a bit and is easy to handle, you're ready to form the balls. As you can see, this is quite a bit of cheese and you have to decide how many balls you're going to make. I usually opt for two, although I have made more, as well as an occasional gigantic one if I really want to make a statement. On a cutting board or flat surface, pour out 1 cup of finely diced walnuts since you'll be coating your cheese balls in some crunchies. Roll away and have fun.

Now wrap the balls loosely in plastic wrap, store in the refrigerator and wait until cocktail time. Serve at room temp. And as great as they are at cocktail time, the leftovers are fabulous too. Use as a spread on a roast beef sandwich. Slather on a bagel with lox and onion. Toss on top of a baked potato. Oh yeah. This is good stuff.

How about some re-mixes? To the cheese mixture add jarred horseradish (drain any liquid). It offers a nice bite. If you like spicy, try a small, drained jar of pickled, chopped jalapenos. I've also added Worcestershire sauce and it's earthy and warm. Instead of walnuts, try chopped pistachios. Now if you're not a nut lover, roll the balls in finely chopped herbs like parsley or cilantro. Whatever way you make these, I know you'll have a ball! Enjoy

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