I wanted to share a easy make-ahead appetizer for the holidays that is just as cute as a button. I was watching Food Network on Sat. and came across different ideas in making cheese balls. One of the reasons for making this recipe was I love recipes that you can make ahead.
So, lets begin. I went online and scoured cheese ball recipes. I found this one.
2- 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened
8- oz. white cheddar cheese, finely shredded
****salt and pepper to taste (optional)
I tasted it and was not wild about it. Granted, I should have waited until the flavors melded for a day, but I chose to react instead. So I added:
1 package dry Ranch Dressing mix
Blend ingredients and roll into a ball and put it in parchment paper. Chill.
The next day the cheese ball tasted so much better.
Ok, so at this point, I had the cheese ball wrapped in parchment paper. I took it out of the fridge and with the paper still on, began molding the cheese ball into a tree shape. After 20 seconds, I put it back in the fridge and chilled it again. Important--it is much easier to repeat this step as once the cheese begins to warm, it becomes difficult to mold. On my 3rd trip from the fridge, I unwrapped the cheese tree(as we will call it at this point) and while wetting my fingers, finished the last step of the molding process.
I placed the 'tree' upright on a red plate.
To begin decorating the 'tree', I rinsed a bunch of regular curly parsley**I normally use only Italian parsley- I guess you could say that I am a parsley snob, but with this recipe, the curly parsley worked better because of the vibrant color.
When I married Mr. Thrifty, he came with this cute small grinder. It was perfect to chop the parsley. Rinse and make sure to cut off the stems first. To chop easier, I filled the chopper with the parsley and then added water to about the half way point. It chops so much better but remember to drain in paper towels before laying the parsley out on parchment paper.
I placed the chopped parsley onto a piece of parchment paper.
Taking the chilled 'tree' out of the fridge, I rolled it in the parsley making sure to cover all the surfaces.
To create ornaments, I used sweet red pepper and diced tiny squares to place on the tree.
To top the tree, it called for an star, but after taking out my mini-cookie cutters,
I decided to go with the angel-a cheddar cheese angel.
I took a block of cheese and cut a piece that was half the thickness of the cookie cutter. Once sliced, I made the angel.
To make sure that the angel would stay on top of the 'tree', I put a toothpick up the bottom...
to keep it secure. Ritz crackers were placed around the tree.
How cute is this?
After taking this to a holiday party, I am pleased to tell you that adding the Ranch dry dressing was the key to giving this cheese 'tree' its wonderful flavor.
If you have your own favorite cheese ball recipe, I'm sure it could be substituted for the one I used.
This was really fun to create. Make ahead and serve.