It may be the bagel’s best friend, but cream cheese also is our special “go to” when we are planning our parties. Have you ever checked your party menu and noticed how many items contain this creamy and delightful ingredient?
One of my favorite ways to use cream cheese is in cheeseballs. Oops ... almost forgot about the wonderful cheesecakes! Now back to party foods made with cream cheese. I remember when my assistant, Mauna Reynolds, and I catered an event for the Heart Association and were asked if we had anything that didn’t have cheese in it. After checking our menu, I noticed that we had more items with it than without it. I guess you can see that I am a fan of cheese ... especially cream cheese.
Cheeseballs not only are a favorite on the party table, but they also are great for gift giving. Who wouldn’t like a delicious cheeseball as a hostess gift during the holidays? It could be placed on a buffet to be enjoyed by guests, or tucked away for the hostess to enjoy later.
If you want to bring a smile to the faces of the recipients, how about giving a cheeseball combo? That is, a sweet cheeseball and a savory one. One of my most often requested cheeseball recipes is my Holiday Dessert Cheeseball. If you serve it during the holidays, it would be good to have some copies of the recipe on hand.
For the savory cheeseball, you might like my Angus Beef Cheeseball. If you don’t want to cook an Angus beef roast, just buy a thick, already prepared slice from the meat market and grind it up yourself.
HOLIDAY DESSERT CHEESEBALL
12 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup chopped candied pineapple
1/4 cup chopped candied cherries
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup coconut (not fresh or frozen)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon coconut flavoring
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup finely-chopped pecans
Cream together the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar. Add pineapple, cherries, dates, coconut and flavorings. Mix well and form into ball. Roll in pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve with round, butter-type crackers.
NOTE: If the mixture is too soft to form into ball, refrigerate until it becomes a little firmer.
ANGUS BEEF CHEESEBALL
8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup shredded or ground Provolone cheese (not smoked)
1 cup cooked and ground Angus beef roast
1/4 cup chopped green onions (include part of the green)
3 tablespoons minced assorted sweet peppers
1/2 teaspoon McCormick’s broiled steak seasoning
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Combine all ingredients except walnuts. Beat until well mixed. Form into large ball and roll in walnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time. Serve with assorted crackers.
— Prudence Hilburn of Piedmont, Alabama has won more than 30 national cooking awards and written several cookbooks, including, “Simply Southern and More.” Write her at email@example.com or visit www.prudencehilburn.com.