New cheese creation!

A finished pumpkin-shaped cheeseball made by Mary Ann Lienhart Cross. 

 One of the best parts of being a Purdue Extension educator is learning something new every day. There are many opportunities in program development, answering calls and writing my column. Learning every day is a highlight for those of us who are lifelong learners. Recently I tried a new pumpkin-shaped cheeseball recipe. This sparked my interest to learn more about the concept of appetizers, hors d’oeuvres and canapés. Some people like to call them “finger foods.”

I’ve learned appetizers are a small dish of food or a drink consumed before a meal to stimulate one’s appetite. Hors d’oeuvres is a French word meaning various savory foods usually served as appetizers. Canapés is a small piece of bread or pastry with a savory topping often served with drinks. To me, there is not a lot of difference. However, one difference is that canapés sit on a crouton or pastry tidbit while hors d’oeuvres are a free agent ready to meet up with whatever bread or cracker is presented.

The holidays are a time of the year when many of us prepare our favorite family recipes as well as new ones. A more relaxed way to entertain during the holidays is to ask guests to bring their favorite appetizers or finger foods and have those as the meal. I am getting hungry just thinking about some of my favorites. So, now onto the cheese ball or spread. I like cheese and all that one can create with it. I have made two different cheese creations for many years (and will continue to make them), but I wanted to try a new recipe.

I have shared this recipe and have had many positive comments. It is moist, easy to spread, simple to make, and not terribly expensive. The ingredients include two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, a red, yellow or orange pepper, a small onion, 1/2 package of dried vegetable soup mix and 1 tablespoon of horseradish. You can use regular, reduced fat or fat free cream cheese.

Place the cream cheese in a bowl and when it is at room temperature beat it with a large spoon. Finely chop the pepper and onion. Keep the stem of the pepper if you want to create a pumpkin shaped cheese ball. Add 1/2 package of soup mix and horseradish to the cream cheese and mix thoroughly. Add the pepper and onion then mix. To make a ball or pumpkin shape, line a small bowl with plastic wrap, place the cheese mixture on the plastic wrap and wrap into a ball. Refrigerate for at least one day or longer. Once it is firm, place it on a plate and use a table knife to make indentations like the sides of a pumpkin. Sometimes it is more attractive to make two smaller shapes than one large one.

This cheese mixture is also quite tasty on a baked potato, baked nachos or burger. The cheese mixture will keep a week or longer in the refrigerator. Enjoy food with family and friends!

Mary Ann Lienhart Cross health and human sciences educator with Purdue Extension Elkhart County. She can be reached at 574-533-0554 or lienhart@purdue.edu.

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