Easy Recipe for the Optional Cheese Ball
For every holiday or special occasion, I am asked to bring my cheeseball. It is usually the first “dish” to disappear. People start eating it before the meal begins. Even the kids are sneaking in to get a bite of the “favorite cheeseball.” It is a tasty appetizer that cost very little money but brings much joy.
"Optional?" you might ask. Well, I have a cheeseball recipe that can be altered to your taste. You can make the cheeseball for any occasion or holiday and be a great success. You will not have a bite left after your gathering. You do risk not being invited if you do not make this delicious appetizer.
I create my base, which includes two packages of cream cheese, sliced onion, and a teaspoon of Accent. It makes it easier to stir and fold in ingredients if you take it out of the package and let it sit in your mixing bowl for 20 – 30 minutes. If you do not have the 20 – 30 minutes, stick it in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds, but keep an eye on it. You want it to keep its shape, and you do not want it to liquidize.
So, I use a fork and press into the cream cheese to soften it up. I add a little Accent at a time. Add the Accent, run the fork through it, add the Accent, run the fork through it and so on. I use this style of blending with each ingredient.
Now I begin to add each of my “optional” ingredients. My favorite additions are sliced black olives and thin sliced ham or beef. You can buy olives that are already sliced or you can slice them yourself. First, a little at a time, I add the onions, then the olives, then the sliced meat. Whenever I place the onions and olives and sliced meat in the bowl, I use the fork to first press each ingredient into the cream cheese then I start folding them into the cream cheese by sliding my fork down the side of the bowl and folding the cream cheese over toward the middle then pressing my fork into the ingredients to make sure they are all evenly blended. I move my fork all around the bowl and fold in toward the middle several times as I add a little of each ingredient until it is all blended.
Once all the ingredients are evenly blended, I take my fork and move it along the side of the bowl to keep it from sticking. I then place the plate I am going to use over the top of the bowl, hold the plate down, turn the bowl upside down, and let the cheese ball drop on top of the plate. I then use my fork to shape the cheese ball.
I use either pecans or English walnuts and cover the cheeseball with them. They add flavor and are for decorative purposes. You want to be sure that those who are enjoying your cheeseball do not have a nut allergy. That is why the pecans and English walnuts are optional.
Note: I like to prepare my cheeseball the night before or the morning before I serve it so all ingredients have time to “marinade” in the cream cheese.
Optional Cheeseball Ingredients
2 packages of cream cheese (more if there are going to be many guest eating the cheeseball)
1 teaspoon Accent (I usually keep this at 1 tsp regardless of adding more cream cheese)
Sliced onion (to taste)
Sliced black olives (to taste)
Thin sliced ham or beef - diced
More Optional Ingredients
Sliced green olives (either by themselves or with the black olives)
Drained can of green chilles
A package of ranch dressing mix
A package of dried onion or vegetable soup
Shredded cheese (your choice of which kind – I like the colby –cheddar mix)
I have used several combinations of these ingredients. For instance, when I know someone does not like olives, I use the package of dried ranch dressing. Or, if I know someone is a Vegetarian, I leave the meat out. Sometimes I increase or decrease the cream cheese, depending on how many people are going to be there. The cheeseball is so loved that I usually have to stick with at least two packages.
I am sure you could personalize this cheeseball with your own favorite ingredients. You have the base, and there are multiple possibilities and combinations. Don't forget your favorite cracker. Have fun with it and enjoy.
© 2011 Susan Holland