Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Cheese Balls with Crackers

Growing up, I remember always helping my Mother make cheese balls for friends & family. I would grate the cheese, my Mom would mix, then I would roll them around in the red powder. Now I have my own family, I decided I would carry on the tradition.


8 c. Mozzarella Cheese
8 c. Mild Cheddar Cheese
4 c. Sharp Cheddar Cheese
6 bxs of Cream Cheese
4 c. Pecans - chopped small
3 tbl. Minced Onions
3 tsp. Garlic Salt
2 tbl. Dried Chives (optional-decorative)
Chili Powder

In two large bowls, equally divide up the cheese, pecans, onion, garlic salt, & chives.

Mix ingredients by squeezing all together. 

Grab a hand full of cheese mixture, form into a fist size ball & place on wax paper. I usually make a few balls larger than others, because some of my friends have large families while others just have one or two in their family.

On a large flat plate, pour equal amounts of chili powder and paprika and mix with a fork.

Roll cheese balls in red powder mix until the ball is fully coated.  I was fortunate enough to have my friend help me with rolling while I formed the balls.  My son was at school & my partner was at work. :(

Individually wrap each cheese ball & store in the fridge until ready to deliver.  I wrap the ball separate because some people might want to put the cheese ball in the fridge & save it for later, but not put the crackers in the fridge.

Place cheese ball on a decorated paper plate, with crackers & wrap the whole plate with plastic wrap.  This year, I gave a cheese ball to the ladies who work so hard at the school, so I added a knife to make it easier for them to enjoy it while they were working.

I usually garnish with a bow & tags I have printed.  In the past I used sticky labels as my tag, but this year, I laminated my printouts so that they may keep the web address to the directions & ingredients that I printed on the labels.

This year, I used a different assortment of crackers. I am partial to Ritz, so I used Original, Garlic Butter & Whole Wheat flavors. I also like Wheat Thins, so I used Original &Tomato Basil flavors.  In the past when I would make the cheese balls with my Mom, she would use Ritz, Town & Club crackers. Of course that was way before they have ever made flavored crackers.

Next year, I am going to try using Pepper Jack Cheese... mmmm....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey Cake Pops

I had decided to make these for my son's class & give them a little boost for the holiday spirit. :)

As I started making them, I asked myself, 'WHY did I start them again soo soon after making some for Halloween?!?!?!?' They turned out cute and were not so difficult as the first ones I did.

I started the day before on making my sugar gum paste feathers & heads. My son & I spent some time coloring the gum paste with gel food coloring.  We were trying to match the brown to the chocolate bodies but couldn't quite get it dark enough. I used a flower cookie cutter & knife to cut out the shapes for each of the feathers.  It worked well for my 9yr old son to cut the rolled out sugar gum paste with the cookie cutter & I used the knife cut the flowers into feathers.  In very random order I 'glued' three together with clear vanilla extract on a sheet of wax paper.  This took almost 24 hours to dry, but when they did dry, they were well stuck together. I did not think it would work at first but I didn't give up.   
My partner thought they
looked huge in a picture
so I captured my hand to
show the size.
My son was helping in the beginning but it proved a little difficult for him so I had him bake a chocolate cake while I did the gluing. 

I used both Orange and Yellow for the beaks.  They were very small. As soon as I rolled the head, I stuck the beak on the head so they could dry together. My son used a edible marker to color the eyes.  After they had dried to where they wouldn't smash when I would pick them up, I used red gel food coloring to paint the red snood on the beak.

The next morning, I crumbled the cake and added 1/2 a can of chocolate buttercream icing, mixing it well.  I stuck the bowl of cake & icing mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes for it to firm up.  I then rolled the cake mixture into balls and placed them onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. I then poked a hole into the top of each ball for the sucker sticks.  I melted a small amount of chocolate dipping candy, suck a sucker stick into the melted candy & then placed the sucker stick into the hole on the ball of cake.

After I had all the balls and sticks made, I froze them for about 2 hours so that when I dipped the cake into chocolate, they wouldn't fall off the stick.

The chocolate melt was still a little darker than the color of my turkey heads so I added some white candy melt to it and the color came out softer. I melted the candy according to the directions on the packaging.

In assembling all the pieces together, I had my partner help me.  I dipped while she placed the feather and heads on the body.  It was easier to have the feathers laid out on wax paper & set the cake pop onto the feathers rather than holding the cake pop upright & holding the feathers and head until the chocolate candy hardened.

I went to Walmart three days before Thanksiving to look for a way to display my gaggle of turkeys & I was pleasantly surprised to see the "fall" items on sale. I purchased a scarecrow for $.50!  Also found some small plastic pumpkins to throw into the mix.
I used the same basket that I had used for the Scary Cake Pops. I purchased a tan leafy material to cover my Styrofoam block. I found some 'straw' to use & ribbon with wire in the fabric section. 

The ladies in the school office thought it was sooooo cute. The next time I went to the office they wanted to know what I was going to make for Christmas.... Snow mans???  Sorry to say tho, they will have to be okay with my Holiday Cheeseballs....