My Favorite Cheese Ball

Normally I would say it was my husband (sorry honey), but around the holidays my favorite cheese ball is this yummy concoction I came up with a few years ago. I set out looking for a good one, but none of the recipes I found were exactly what I was looking for, so I started experimenting and came up with this delicious combination. It quickly became my daughter’s favorite holiday treat.

These are great to have on hand if you plan on having people around over the holidays. One batch can be made into as many cheese balls as you like, depending on the gatherings that you will need them for (I usually get three roughly 3 1/2 inches in diameter). I make this up at the start of the season, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and pop them into the fridge or freezer until I need them. The recipe can be halved if desired.
Cheryl’s Favorite Cheese Ball:

  • 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded medium or sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 pieces of bacon, fried until crisp and well chopped (for a vegetarian option, substitute 1/2 cup finely chopped green olives or sundried tomatoes)
  • 1 medium/large clove garlic, minced
  • a good dash of hot sauce
  • a good dash of worchestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • minced pecans or walnuts for rolling in, optional

Put the cream cheese into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the nuts) and mix until combined, scraping from the bottom several times to incorporate.After you’ve decided how many balls you’d like to make, lay out the appropriate number of pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper (the balls will eventually start to dry out if stored in waxed paper for too long, so you may want to slip them inside another container to help keep them moist). Divide the cheese mixture between the sheets of wrap, placing it in the middle of each sheet. To form a ball, pull the plastic wrap up around the sides of the cheese mixture, gathering it tightly, and twist the end of the wrap to form a tight package, shaping it into a ball as you go. Chill or freeze at this point.When ready to serve, take the cheese ball out of the fridge (allow frozen cheese balls to thaw in the refrigerator at least overnight) and roll in minced nuts if desired. Let the ball sit out at room temperature for at least a half an hour (an hour is better) as the flavours are better when the cheese isn’t too cold.Serve with crackers, slices of baguette, or small pretzel twists (my favorite, as you can use them to scoop with).This would be a great addition to any New Year’s celebration!

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