Chilly and Cheese Balls

There is nothing like music to make you forget about the cold (okay that and a hot shower). It is about 42 degrees outside currently and I don’t think the heat is on in my place.  But as a backdrop to writing this post I started listening to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  I got so sucked into their performance on NPR that I forgot I was cold. It could be too that hippies are always associated with warm weather, smoke of some kind or another, and are probably very nice, welcoming people—so how can they not make you forget about the frigidity surrounding you.

There is also nothing like a party to make the short winter days more survivable. However, as we grow older, and supposedly more responsible, bringing a bag of chips or a 6 pack of beer (unless requested of course) isn’t really kosher.  The alternative: cheese balls (think more molded soft cheese, less fluorescent orange spheres). They are rather quick to whip up, handle more interesting flavors well, and, if you‘re the creative type, are fun to play around with in terms of food presentation.

You can find tons of variations online, but here’s two I really liked.

Note: If these are too smancy for you, stayed tuned. Homemade cheese dip, perfect for game day is up next.

Chocolate Chip Mint Cheese Ball  

Don’t try to make this with cream cheese just taken out of the fridge. It will be hard to break up and mix in the other ingredients; warmer is better. I like to roll this in cocoa powder, but you can also roll it in finely chopped pecans if you prefer. Serve with graham crackers.

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint (or to taste)
  • Cocoa powder
  1. In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in confectioners’ sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips and mint. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  2. Shape chilled cream cheese mixture into a ball. Wrap with plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  3. Roll the cheese ball in cocoa powder before serving.

Pineapple Onion Cheese Ball

 Make sure your pineapple is well drained, otherwise it will make the ball mixture soggy and cause it to not stick together well. You can roll this one in chopped walnuts, otherwise for a more surprising blend I like to roll it in kosher salt mixed with raw sugar; I’ve also done all three.

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c. red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ c. can pineapple, well drained
  • ¼ c. green onion chopped
  • Chopped walnuts, kosher salt, raw sugar
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together well cream cheese with next three ingredients. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  2. Shape chilled cream cheese mixture into a ball. Wrap with plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  1. Roll in the walnut, sugar and salt mixture
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