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December 2, 2010

Recipe Corner: Easy Appetizer--Cheddar Cheese Balls with Almond

One easy appetizer to make yourself at home is a simple cheese ball. They're great to take as hostess gifts, can be frozen if made ahead of time, and are so much more economical than bought cheese spreads.

I love to make them myself because I can split the recipe into several smaller balls, better for my small household. Rather than being left with a half-eaten appetizer that gets dried out and unappetizing, I get a smaller serving which leaves me with a fresh appetizer to serve at a separate time. Also they're easily customizable to include your favorite ingredients and leave out whatever doesn't appeal; think: minced dried fruits like apricot, fresh or dried herbs like sage or rosemary, or nuts like pinenut, walnut, or almond.

My friend Heather taught me to make these, and I've passed this along to at least one other friend.

The basic recipe consists of one 8 oz. package cream cheese (I use lower-fat neufchatel), two cups shredded cheddar or other cheese, 1/4 or 1/2 cup chopped nuts or nut meal, and 1/4 tsp. garlic salt. Bring cream cheese to room temperature. In large bowl, mix all ingredients with your hands until completely saturated. Split into two or three (or make one large bowl) and round with the palms of your hands. Roll in shredded nuts or herbs if desired. Wrap in saran wrap and tin foil and refrigerate or freeze till hardened.

I keep one of these in the fridge or freezer at all times for an easy spread for unexpected drop-by guests.

Do you have any recipes you keep on hand for the holidays that are more economical to make at home than to buy already prepared? Please leave a comment on the blog!

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