Susan enjoys sharing her "optional" recipes because you can tweak them in many delicious ways to match your taste. Enjoy!
Why Should I Make a Cheese Ball?
People often ask me to make my "optional" cheese ball for a holiday or special gathering. It's a tasty appetizer that I've noticed is usually the first dish to disappear. Adults start munching away at it before the meal begins, and even the kids sneak in to get a bite of this “optional" cheese ball. It costs little to make and brings much joy to guests. Pair it with crackers and meats for a fun way to let people dig in!
You may wonder why I describe my cheese ball as "optional." Well, this recipe is a great foundation you can tweak to fit your taste preferences and the occasion at hand. I would be surprised if there were a single bite left after your gathering has ended. You know it'll be a smashing success, so make sure to try making this cheese ball!
- 2 packages cream cheese
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 tsp Accent flavor enhancer
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- First, create your base by combining all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. It's easiest if you let the cream cheese sit at room temperature for 20–30 minutes to let it soften. If you don't have the extra time, stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, but watch to make sure it doesn't become a liquid.
- Use a fork and press it into the cream cheese to soften it up. Add a little Accent at a time and continue mixing it in until it's completely incorporated. Use this method to blend in each ingredient and form the base.
- Begin adding your “optional” ingredients. My favorite additions are sliced black olives and thin-sliced ham or beef. First, add the onions a little bit at a time. Then, go on and do the same thing with the olives and sliced meat. then the olives, then the sliced meat. Fold each ingredient into the cream cheese by sliding a fork down the side of the bowl and folding the cream cheese toward the middle and into the ingredients to ensure they're evenly blended.
- Take your fork and move it along the side of the bowl to keep it from sticking. Face the serving plate you're going to use for the event down on top of the bowl, hold the two plates together, and then turn the bowl upside down to let the cheese ball drop on top of the plate. Use your fork to shape the cheese ball.
- For an optional garnish, I suggest using either pecans or English walnuts and cover the cheeseball with them. They add a nice flavor and are quite decorative, but make sure to check that no one has a nut allergy first.
- Note: I like to prepare my cheeseball the morning or night before the party so the ingredients have time to “marinate” in the cream cheese.
Optional Cheeseball Ingredients
I've used several combinations of the ingredients below to add variety to my cheese ball. For instance, if I know someone dislikes olives, I use a package of dried ranch dressing instead. If I know someone is vegetarian, I leave out the meat. Sometimes, I increase or decrease the amount of cream cheese depending on the number of attendees. Guests love the cheese ball so much that I usually stick with at least two packages.
Try inventing your own cheese ball creation with the ingredients below:
- Sliced black olives
- Thin sliced ham or beef
- Sliced green olives or black olives
- Drained can of green chilies
- A package of ranch dressing mix
- A package of dried onion or vegetable soup
- Shredded cheese (your choice—I like the Colby-cheddar blend)
Feel free to personalize the cheese ball with your favorite ingredients. Don't forget to serve it with your favorite crackers and enjoy!
© 2011 Susan Holland