Happy Holiday Cheeseball

As I hinted, I did make a terrific cheeseball over the weekend, let it sit until Monday, then dug in. I would have posted yesterday, but time escaped me again! Wrapping packages, writing my last few Christmas cards, and the next thing I know, the day is gone. Funny how that happens faster when you get older.

I took time to look for the Christmas star, aka the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction. I expected it to be brighter and maybe a little larger, although I’m sure city lights dimmed the view. If I’d been in the desert like I used to be when I lived in El Paso, Texas, I’m sure it would have popped more. Still, how the heck did the Three Kings manage to follow that light amongst all the others?

But I digress… I found this recipe on gimmedelicious.com and had to make minor adjustments to make it low carb. Of course, I added a tiny touch or two to make it mine. Use low carb crackers, bagel chips, carrots, or celery as the base to spread a little of this yummy cheese on top. Easy to make, it comes together quickly once you have the chopping done. It’s great for a family gathering or a small party. Besides that, it’s festive-looking with the red and green in and on it.
One tip, though; when it comes to chopping chives or onions, it’s easier to use kitchen scissors to cut them into small pieces.

Photo: Cranberry-pecan cheeseball

Cranberry Pecan Cheeseball

8 ounces Cream Cheese
1 cup White Sharp Cheddar Cheese shredded
1/2 cup dried Sugar-reduced Cranberries chopped and divided
1 cup Pecans chopped and toasted (optional)
2 tablespoons Chives, chopped
2 tablespoon Spinach, chopped
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Set the cream cheese out to soften for about an hour. Meanwhile chop the pecans, the craisins, chives, and spinach. Shred the white cheese if needed.

Toast Pecans: Pre-heat oven to 375F. Spread the chopped pecans on a baking tray and bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until they smell toasty. Be careful not to burn them.  Set these aside and turn the oven off.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder together until you have a smooth mixture. Add 1/2 of the roasted pecan and 1/2 of the cranberries, then the chives. Stir together until these are mixed through the cream cheese.

Cut a large piece of plastic wrap and put the mixture in the middle.  Use a spoon or spatula to begin to shape it into a ball. Once all the cheese is pulled together, use the wrap to push it closer together and round the shape as you encase the ball in the wrap and close off the top by twisting.

Put the cheese ball in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours. This will firm up the cream cheese.

Before serving, mix the remaining pecans, cranberries and spinach or chives together on a flat surface, such as a baking pan or cheese board. Unwrap the chilled ball and roll it in the pecan and cranberry mixture, coating all sides. Press the fruit and nuts into the ball if they won’t stick.

Place on a serving platter and surround with dippers. Makes about 12 servings.

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