Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Cheeseball!

I hope everyone has the Thanksgiving they'd like to celebrate ... and not, of course, just the one you get! Everyone has their own family traditions that change or even evaporate over the years ... I have to say that ours have been pretty malleable for quite some time. Usually we spend it with Fernymoss' parents (and relatives) and this year is no exception. Aside from me not getting to cook the turkey in the way I like (which I usually compensate for by doing a Turkey breast for Christmas just for us), we've fallen into a pretty comfortable and enjoyable way of celebrating the holiday. Eat early in the afternoon, then retire to converse, have coffee and often watch a DVD. (I'm still trying to pick one out to offer, but my inclination would be The Fall. We'll see if that one flies....) Thankfully, football is always out of the picture (or I'd really have to beg off for a nap!) so options are usually open ... whew! Anyway, this year I've been asked to provide a salad, and Fernymoss was going to make a pumpkin pie (until he got lucky and his mom said she'd already baked one), and we also had the idea of making the cheeseball that was popular at our Halloween Bash ... So, here we have the subject of today's post!

I thought it might be fun to chronicle how easy this is to make, so as I set about putting it all together in the kitchen tonight, I decided to go all Food Network and show how this tasty snack/appetizer is made. Obviously, this first shot shows what you'll need ... As you can see, it's pretty mundane stuff easily found at your favorite supermarket .. 2 cans of Underwood Deviled Ham, a package each of cream cheese, a small (.4 oz) packet of dry Ranch salad dressing, 4 multicolor peppers (to use half of each), 2 Cups of shredded cheese (this is Colby Jack, but the original recipe calls for cheddar) and unsalted Sunflower Seeds (I refuse to call them 'nuts').

As for preparation, let the cream cheese come to room temperature for a couple of hours, then stir in the Ranch salad dressing mix and combine thoroughly. Add the 2 cans of deviled ham, and stir thoroughly to combine.

At this point, add the diced multicolor peppers, fold them in well, and add the 2 Cups of shredded cheese, again folding them in well. Now comes the relaxing time ... cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Fortunately, tonight that allowed me to watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Rachel Maddow Show, before I had to complete the final steps to this über complicated recipe. Once I had my current events/politics fix, I went back into the kitchen.

After its time chilling out, we're ready to shape this mass into some sort of ball or log. You have to use your hands here ... so either sheathe the whole ball into plastic wrap and roll it into a log or just free form it (the path I always take) into a rough ball. The way I figure it, once someone digs into it, all artistry then leaves the room, so I quit bothering about trying to be fancy. A cheeseball is what it is.

Now, here's the fun part ... you get to try to make unsalted sunflower seeds stick to the whole thing, once you've got it shaped to your satisfaction. It's not as easy as it might sound (and is perhaps the most complicated part of this recipe), but never fear. Just dump a fair amount of the seeds over the lump and spread them around, pressing them lightly to the lump. Work your way around until you have it covered to your satisfaction (or level of frustration). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you need to serve. With crackers, of course. Need I say more? You know already what you do with a cheeseball!

The other dish I made tonight was even a bit more "complicated" as the cheeseball. I guess you could call this IVG's Impromptu Pasta Salad, since we sort of made this one up as we brainstormed what items would be acceptable to a culinary audience other than ourselves. So here's what we came up with (for all audiences):

1 pkg (12 oz.) of Farfalle 'Bow Tie' pasta, cooked
1 Cup of diced multicolor sweet peppers, diced
1 Good size stalk of broccoli, trimmed to just the florets
1/2 bag of frozen peas (microwaved)
1 1/2 Cups of cubed cheese (Colby Jack, Cheddar, etc.)
1 Cup of Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 Small package (.4 oz.) Dry Ranch Dressing
A few grinds of fresh cracked pepper (optional)

Cook the pasta, and about 2 minutes before it's done (about 10 min.), add the broccoli florets to give them a quick cook. Drain and let cool a little bit before adding the rest of the ingredients. Add the cooked peas and diced peppers. If the pasta is still a little warm, let it cool some more and then add the cubed cheese. Once all those are combined, start working in the mayonnaise/Ranch mixture and fold until most parts appear coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until shortly before serving.

Now, I just gave you the generic bland version of how I'd like to do this the dressing, I'd add at least 1/4 Cup of Dijon Mustard, if not more. It all depends on taste, but we tend to the tangy and spicy. We'd also include various olives (green and black), sliced mushrooms and some diced red onion. But this was an improvised recipe we hope will please, and I think possible variations are an easy thing to adapt to one's own tastes.... What do you think?

Again, wishing you the best, most relaxing Thanksgiving Day as you conceive of it!

Oh yeah, one thing I was particularly thankful for was learning that Anne Coulter's Mouth Has Been Wired Shut! I know it's only for a month or so, but that made my day!

Not bad for Thanksgiving 2008, I'd say....


olivia said...

LOL IVG! I love you going all Food Network-y -- you know, this might be something to consider for the winter (you mentioned in the last post). :-)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and Fernymoss!

Family Man said...

Hiya IVG and Olivia.

I agree with Olivia - Food Network-y. :)

I also agree that might be something to think about over the winter.

Hope you and Fernymoss are having a great Thanksgiving.

Shady Gardener said...

Happy Thanksgiving IVG & Fernymoss! Hope your day turned out to be extra special!

Gail said...

Hi IVG and Fernymoss! I hope you had a fantastic holiday! Ours was delightful!


FARfetched said...

Mrs. Fetched's sister does the cheese balls. She makes two: one for everyone & one for her mom.

The in-laws always want to know if I'm making bread.

Annie in Austin said...

It sounds like you both had a fine Thanksgiving, IVG & Fernymoss - we watched Danny Deckchair - a sweet Australian comedy.

Thanks for the recipes. I like my sunflower seeds unsalted too, but wonder if dusting them with something like fine parmesan first would make it easier to stick them onto the cheese mixture.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

boran2 said...

Well done, IVG! I hope that you had a good thanksgiving. I made pumpkin chocolate brownies that turned out pretty well. In fact I'm going to make some more. ;-)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Are you serious about Ann Coulter? If it had to happen to anybody...
My Dad is a big Fox News watcher. I'll ask him for the details.

I got so excited I forgot to say I hope you had a great holiday;) The recipes look good!

Janet said...

I'll email you the photo of the RUMkin Cheesecake me and Danni made. :)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Olivia,
The thought had already hit me and that could be fun as long as folks don't mind me going all FN.

Sorry you had to work on our holiday, but as always you guys beat us au jour de merci donnant. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Howdy FM,
I do have my FN favorites I try to watch frequently, Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, Alton Brown and Duff Goldman (only for the cool cakes).

Paula Dean though? Nah, you southerners can have her back! :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady,
I stopped by quickly today and saw you have snow too. Ack, I'm still not ready for this stuff!

We had a very relaxing, casual day with family, nothing ostentatious, but just fine!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail!
Thanks, and glad to hear you had a good weekend as well ... though half of mine I had a stomach bug. Grrr Yep, winter is here and all the lovely viruses out there, lol.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR!
So are their cheese balls similar to this one? This one just seemed to have a bit of a "Southern" flair to it (maybe it's the Underwood's?).

I'd have much preferred baking bread, because it would have taken less time! My famous baguettes are a snap with a Kitchen Aid Mixer ... 1.5 hrs from start to out of the oven. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there Annie!
Ah, another title I'll have to investigate thanks to you. :-) I do like a good little Aussie film, so that's why I'm likely avoiding the "Big Damn Aussie Movie" that just came out. I love Baz L, but very leery of this one!

You're right, keeping the sunflower seeds on the cheese is daunting, and your idea sounds like it would do the trick, and add a bit more flavor! Next time I might try that, though for Christmas, I was thinking of using pistachios....

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
Hmm, those brownies sound interesting, maybe you should post the recipe. Sounds like an interesting combo of flavors there!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Serious about the Coulter -- just click the link at the end of the post and see for yourself.

Poetic justice on her, eh? hehehe

Glad you enjoyed the recipes, too!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Janet,
Got the pic you sent and that does look good, even though I'm not a big cheesecake eater, I'd certainly give that a try!

Hate to confess (being such a Food Network junkie) that I don't even own a spring form pan and avoid baking things that have to have a water bath! As you can tell, I do very little "dessert-y" type cooking ... just cookies and candy at Christmas. :-)

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