I am pretty sure my family is not the only one whose New Year’s Eve repast consists mostly of hors doeuvres and finger foods. When you’re staying up until midnight to usher in the New Year, you need to snack on something, right? And it’s better (or so one thinks) to nibble here and there all night long than to fill yourself up on a big meal and then nibble some more on top of that.
My offering for the New Year’s nibbling-fest is neither exciting nor new: it is a simple humble cheese ball. I have admired and enjoyed others’ cheese balls through the years, but I never attempted one myself until I brought one to a Christmas party a couple weeks ago. Since it was more or less a success, and I still had 2 packages of cream cheese in the refrigerator, I decided to make another for my contribution to the New Years’ selection of appetizers.
The vast majority of cheese balls (or logs, if you prefer) are rolled in nuts, but since I was out of nuts and my DH can’t eat them anyway, I had to scratch my brain for a few minutes to come up with an alternative: seasoned bread crumbs! It’s so simple, but it’s so delicious; in fact, I think I prefer the bread crumbs to chopped nuts, because they blend in better both in texture and in taste. Unfortunately, removing the nuts also removes some of the health value of this appetizer, but one must make trade-offs somewhere, especially when it comes to diets limited for health reasons.
There are at least a million varieties of cheese ball recipes (as you will discover if you google cheese ball recipe), but almost all of them have one thing in common: they’re based on 2 8oz bricks of softened cream cheese. As long as you have those items and a few seasonings and spices in your cupboard, you are good to go. I sort of made mine up as I went a long, and here’s what I ended up with:
Easy Peasy Cheesy Ball
2 8oz bricks cream cheese, softened
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Place all ingredients, except the bread crumbs, in a medium bowl and stir together until well blended (if the cream cheese is soft enough, you can do this with a wooden spoon). Spoon the mixture onto a large sheet of wax paper:
Use the wax paper to help you shape it into a ball:
Roll the cheese ball in the bread crumbs until it is completely covered and no cheese is showing through. You can also continue shaping as you go so that you have a nice round ball. The bread crumbs will help you shape it up firmly.
This is what it should look like:
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