April is just chock full of holidays and celebrations and excuses for making great food. Take today, for example. Upon waking this morning, I read on Twitter that April 17th happens to be National Cheeseball Day, and while they say Cheeseball and I say Cheese Ball, it all comes out the same in the end.
Later, as I was trolling the aisles of my local supermarket, I passed a dairy case that featured several kinds of cheese balls and cheese logs. They all looked exactly like the kind my Grammy used to make - big and lumpish and covered in chopped nuts of dubious origin. It is giving them all the breaks when I say that they did not look very good. That's when inspiration struck and I knew I could do better.
It was a rainy Sunday and nothing more could be done to ease the pain of my tax return, so I thought: "Why not cheese balls? Why not now?" I had just about everything I needed to improvise and so I set out to bring my Grammy's cheese balls into the 21st century.
We know it's all about the cheese, right? And so I took a basic formula to create the foundation of my afternoon of ball play. Here is what I did:
Basic Cheese Ball Formula
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups Cabot Cheddar Cheese, grated
2 shakes Worcestershire Sauce
a dash or two of Tabasco or Sriracha Sauce (optional)
Add something fun and delicious to roll the whole thing around in. Preferably not nuts of dubious origin.
Use your imagination when thinking about what you'll roll your balls in.
Pretend you're a painter with a ball-rolling palette.
Mix the cheeses, Worcestershire Sauce, and hot sauce food processor until smooth and blended and let chill in refrigerator for several hours. Then you can make a big ole cheese ball and surround it with crackers. Or you can do what I like to do and make tiny, bite size balls and mix 'em up a bit. Add interesting tastes to your balls. Roll your balls in different kinds of yumminess. Bottom line? Have fun with your balls.
Here is just a partial list of fun ways to deck your balls for wows and jollies!
Fiesta Balls: Use Cabot Habanero Cheddar and roll in chopped cilantro.
Bunny Balls: Use Cabot Mild Cheddar, add chopped spinach when you process the cheese, and roll in chopped carrots.
Sharp & Sweet Balls: Use Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar and roll in chopped dried fruit.
Seedy Balls: Use Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar, add a dash of soy sauce and roll in toasted sesame seeds.
Green Balls: Use Cabot Garlic & Herb Cheddar and roll in chopped pistachio nuts.
Caprese Balls: Use Cabot Tomato Basil Cheddar, add 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves, and roll in sun dried tomatoes.
Sunny Balls: Use Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar and roll in roasted sunflower seeds.
Fancy Balls: Use Cabot Private Stock Cheddar and roll in chopped scallions.
Kickin' Balls: Use Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Jalapeno Cheddar, add 1/2 a mashed avocado, and roll in chopped almonds.
Horsey Balls: Use Cabot Horseradish Cheddar and roll in crumbled bacon.
Cheezy Poof Balls: Use Cabot Sharp Cheddar and roll in crushed cheese puff snacks.
Truth be told, if you let your imagination run free, cheese balls are just about the most fun you can have making an appetizer. Drop me a line with your ideas.
And have a ball!