29 December 2017

What to do with those terrible neon cheese balls at Safeway

You know those cheap cheese balls in the grocery store, the ones that are bright orange and covered in ground up nuts, stored next to the Sabre hummus and other things you really should just make yourself? In a rare moment of optimism, we picked one up at the beginning of the holiday season. It wasn't good.  It didn't cause any gastro-intestinal distress, but that's about all I can say for it.  So, we choked some down with crackers and beer one night and then shoved it to the back of the cheese drawer. TYhree weeks later, the thing was still edible, but not edible enough to actually put on any more crackers.  I hate to waste food, so I wondered what I could do with it.

If you have ever found yourself in this situation, I can highly recommend these two super-easy recipes that will also help you use up some other holiday meal leftovers shoved in the fridge. And if you'd like to try making a cheese ball you and your guests will actually enjoy for New Year's Eve, there's a recipe for that at the bottom, too.




Party Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

1/2 pound macaroni or pasta shape of your choice
4 oz. or so of your sad cheese ball
1/2 cup leftover vegetables (I leftover pesto peas from Christmas: pesto stirred into some thawed frozen peas and gently heated by Chef Mike while my dad carved the turkey)
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomato (optional)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and crushed red pepper to taste

Bring a well-salted pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta al dente and drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Stir in the cheese ball and Parmesan, if using, adding some of the cooking liquid if necessary (try a tablespoon at a time) to form a smooth sauce.  Stir in the cooked vegetables, sun dried-tomatoes, and season with salt and red pepper.  Serve hot.

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Cheese Ball Potatoes

Serves 8 as a side

4-6 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1/2 cup (4 oz) leftover cheese ball
2 eggs

Mash everything together and spread in an 8x8 pan. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
OR, to make it faster, reheat the mashed potatoes in the microwave before adding everything, bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, then move it to the top rack in the oven. Broil for 2-4 minutes (check at two minutes), until browned on top.

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Edible Cheese Ball

Serves: depends on how drunk you are

16 oz softened cream cheese 
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon (don't you dare use Bacon Bits)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped pecans 

Whip the cream cheese and cheddar cheese together in a high power blender, food processor, or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Form the cheese into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until firm.
In a medium bowl, stir together the bacon bits, green onions, and pecans. Roll the cheese ball in the mixture.
Wrap the ball tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.