The Gifts from the Kitchen Kick-Off: Cheese Ball Kits

The first year that I was invited to spend Christmas with The Hubs’ family (my future in-laws), I was thrilled.     We had been dating a long time and I had only met the parents once.

It was to be a momentous occasion to be sure.

His family always celebrated on Christmas Eve with an appetizer/sandwich/snack buffet.    I was to find out there were lots of traditions with this buffet.

His mother had to make cocktail meatballs, there had to be French onion dip, the sandwiich bar with turkey, ham, loads of cheeses was enormous, and the famous (and secret) punch had to be concocted.

What was I, a newcomer, to bring?

After much deliberation (and trepidation), I decided to bring my own family’s favorite cheese ball.

When I declared my decision to my then boyfriend, he looked skeptical.    Cheese balls were not a customary item on the Christmas buffet.

I persevered.

Needless to say, it was a hit and my soon to be brother-in-law ate half of it by himself.     He has had only one question for me at all holidays since:     “Are you bringing the cheese ball?”

I have no idea where this recipe came from.   I copied it down long ago into my Betsey Clark recipe album.   I bet I was twelve or thirteen when I originally copied the recipe.

Ready for the Christmas buffet.

Favorite Family Cheese Ball

2 pkg. cream cheese (Now I usually use Neufchâtel or 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese.)
8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained well
1 T. season salt (like Lawry’s)
1 t. dried onion flakes
1/4 c. dried bell peppers flakes (like Cain’s)
1 c. chopped pecans, divided

Let cream cheese come to room temperature.     Place pineapple in a sieve and let it drain well, pushing out excess moisture.

Place cream cheese, drained pineapple, season salt, onion flakes, dried bell peppers and 1/2 cup of pecans in the bowl of a stand mixer attached with the whip.    (Reserve the remaining pecans to roll the ball in.)

Mix until smooth.

Spread a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter.     Sprinkle remaining pecans on sheet.

Slightly moisten hands and form cheese mixture into a ball.    Roll ball in pecans and use the plastic wrap to help you coat the ball and shape it.

Wrap up in the plastic wrap and let set for at least three hours in the fridge before serving.

Serve with your favorite cracker.

Since my brother-in-law lives far away now and we often do not get to see him and his family at Christmas, I have been known to mail him his own cheese ball kit.

This year I plan to get a new quart paint can and seal these ingredients inside for him.   All he will have to do is buy a couple of packages of cream cheese.

A package of seasoning, a package of pecans, and a can o’ pineapple.

I am going to try my darndest to keep  up with posting some gift ideas from the kitchen and otherwise during this month.    It is starting off pretty busy so we will have to see.

Good luck with all your gifting, prepping, decorating, and planning.

For last year’s Gift from the Kitchen posts, click here.    

For 2010, I was really original and did the Twelve Days of Christmas.

P.S.  Suzy at Two Dogs in the Kitchen posted a pretty similar cheese ball with pineapple and ham that also sounds very tasty!   ‘Tis the season for cheese balls!





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