Archive for December, 2014

Party Cheese Ball

Monday, December 8th, 2014

My mom is not a cook.

For our wedding (I think I’ve mentioned this before), our friends and family put together an awesome cookbook of their favorite recipes. Since my mom is not a cook, however, her contribution was a little…simple.

Spinach Dip

Submitted by Mom

Ingredients:

  • Money of some sort
  • Your local grocery store
  • 1 round loaf Hawaiian bread
  • 2 lbs deli spinach dip
  • A car

Directions:

Drive to the store. Purchase spinach dip and Hawaiian bread. Drive home. Carve hole in middle of Hawaiian bread. Place spinach dip in hole. Serve with pieces of bread from hole around it. Enjoy!

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It was still a wonderful contribution, since it makes me laugh every time I think of it. Plus, it’s a classic “Mom” dish that she takes to most parties that she has to bring an appetizer. Who doesn’t like Spinach Dip? Even though I love to cook, and would likely make spinach dip from scratch if I were going to take it somewhere, I love this recipe from my Mom.

The other recipes she included is a little more useful. It also happens to be her other appetizer recipe. It’s a classic cheeseball, a popular party snack. Here’s how it goes.

Cheeseball

Submitted by Mom

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Kraft Pimento cheese
  • 1 jar Kraft Old English cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • Chopped pecans
  • Assorted crackers, for serving

Directions:

Soften the cream cheese. Mix 3 cheeses together, blend well. Shape into a ball. Roll in chopped nuts. Wrap in wax paper and foil, store in refrigerator overnight. Serve with crackers.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Apparently recipes from Mom are about 30 words long. Nothing wrong with that. I make this one often, because it’s easy, and a family favorite. The hardest part is finding the little jars of cheese–I swear they move around the grocery store every time I go. They’re never in the same place twice!

This Thanksgiving, I dressed up Mom’s classic Cheeseball recipe–like a turkey!

Gobble Gobble!

Gobble Gobble!

This is one of those rare Pinterest projects that turns out better than the inspiration. I love this little guy! To adjust mom’s general recipe, I rolled the cheeseball in crushed Ritz crackers to help it hold together, chilled overnight as directed, and then added the other garnishes once I got it on the platter the next day. The back feathers are crackers, I stuck pecan halves in the cheeseball in a feather pattern, rather than using chopped pecans, and the face is a strip of red bell pepper. The beak is cut out of a slice of cheddar cheese, and the eyes were made from a thin slice of string cheese, with a couple of whole black peppercorns stuck into it. I stuck a few toothpicks into the cheeseball and through the pepper, eyes, and beak. The whole process took about 5 extra minutes, and was a great addition to my Thanksgiving appetizer spread!

Beer-Battered Fresh Wisconsin Cheese Curds

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Fried stuff with cheese!

Can anyone tell me what that’s from?

. . .

It sure has been a while, hasn’t it?

. . .

Anybody still out there?

. . .

No? That’s okay, I’ve decided to post anyway.

Two random events have come together to bring you this delicious post.

Random Event #1:  a couple of months ago, we finally broke down and bought a deep fryer.

We don’t fry things often. Or, well, maybe it would be better to say that we didn’t fry things often. Because now that we have a deep fryer, we fry things pretty frequently.

It used to be that if I wanted to fry something, I’d get out the dutch oven and a thermometer, heat up the oil, and fry things on the stove. The problem with that is that it’s messy, greasy, and most of the oil goes to waste, because I never had a good system for straining the oil to be reused. More often than not, it would sit in that pan, unfiltered, until we broke down and did the dishes, and then it would get tossed. Pretty wasteful.

So like I said, I broke down and bought a deep fryer.

Random Event #2: On Black Friday, my mom, my sister and I went shopping in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And as all sensible Chicagoans must do when they cross that northern border, I stopped and bought cheese curds.

Do you see where this is going?

EZPromain

T-Fal Ultimate EZ Clean Pro

Do you?

 

wisconsin-cheese-curds

fresh cheese curds

Now you do.

beer battered cheese curds

beer battered cheese curds

So how’d I do it? Once you have the deep fryer and the cheese curds, this one’s actually pretty easy.

Beer-Battered Fresh Wisconsin Cheese Curds

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts of canola oil, peanut oil, or vegetable oil for frying (I like to use canola oil)
  • 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup bisquick or other baking mix
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound fresh cheese curds broken into pieces

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large fryer or sauce pan to 375 degrees. This part’s easy if you have an electric deep fryer. If you don’t, you can use a thermometer, or worst-case-scenario, you can check to see if the oil is ready by dipping the handle of a wooden spoon into the pan. If the oil forms bubbles around the handle, it’s ready.
  2. Whisk together milk, baking mix, beer, and egg until well incorporated.
  3. Place cheese curds in batter 6 – 8 at a time, stir to coat.
  4. Using a slotted spoon to pull them out of batter, shaking off excess batter.
  5. Deep fry curds until golden brown.
  6. Drain on paper towels
  7. Sprinkle with a light dusting of salt while they’re still hot and resting on the paper towels.
  8. Enjoy the cheesy goodness!
soooo cheesy

soooo cheesy

See? Perfection. The cheese will be melty and gooey and perfectly stringy–like the texture of the best mozzarella sticks you can imagine. The breading, thanks to the baking mix and the beer in the batter, has a light, fluffy texture, even as it gets crispy around the edges. And even though the batter is bound to drip and drizzle a little bit in the oil, the deep fryer we bought has a built in filter as well as a frying pan and frying basket that are completely dishwasher safe, so cleanup is a breeze. If you’re making these without a fryer, though, you should expect a fair amount of crunchy bits left in the oil confounding your efforts to clean up. Just one more reason to buy a deep fryer, I suppose. Even without the deep fryer, they might just be worth the trouble. Thankfully, I don’t have to decide and we can just make them whenever we want.

* * *

P.S. “Fried stuff with cheese!” is from Friends. The One with the Truth About London. Phoebe imagines what could have happened if Joey and Monica had ended up together, and it turns out that what would have happened is that Joey would have weighed about 400 pounds thanks to Monica’s cooking. 

Monica: Dinner’s ready!

Joey: What’s my little chef got for me tonight?

Monica: Your favorite!

Joey: Ho-ho-ho, fried stuff with cheese!

It’s hard to blame you, Joey. Who doesn’t love fried stuff with cheese?!