Sunday, September 16, 2012

Super Easy Sunday: An Appealing Appetizer

Yeah, so I said I'd be doing a slow cooker recipe; about that.... it usually helps if you remember to throw it together in time before you leave for work. Oops.  Next Sunday? That gives me a whole week to get used to the slow cooker concept.

Anywho, our pinch hitter for the night is the Ranch Cheese Ball.  I've been saving this one especially for football season, and what better way to celebrate Alabama's latest win, yes? (Or Auburn's, you know, if you swing that way; no sides here). This is a great recipe for hosting those football gatherings: easy to whip up and hard to knock over as you scream and wildly gesticulate at the television (you know who you are...).

What You'll Need
Large mixing bowl                                                    Wooden mixing spoon
Cutting board                                                             Measuring cups
Knife for dicing
8 oz cream cheese                                                      1 small packet ranch mix
1/3 cup red bell pepper                                              8 oz shredded cheddar
1/2 cup onion                                                            Flour
1/2 cup pecans + some for rolling

Now Let's Make a Ranch Cheese Ball
Unwrap and place 8 oz of cream cheese in the large mixing bowl.  Reduced fat cream cheese works as well as regular, but I'd steer clear of fat free. Soften your cream cheese, if it isn't already. I usually leave mine out to let it soften, but a short stay in the microwave will do the trick.

Oh, cheese blob, just look at you, so blobby
Dice enough red bell pepper to make 1/3 cup. Add to bowl.  Next, dice enough onion to fill a 1/2 cup, and add it to the bowl.  Then measure out 1/2 cup of pecan chips and add them to the bowl. If you chop your own pecans, just make sure to get them very fine.  Lastly, add the small packet of dry ranch mix. Use your wooden spoon to whip the ingredients together. Make sure to mix them thoroughly as you don't want any large areas of a single ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to prevent the ranch mix from escaping the mixing process. (Watch it, it's sneaky).

Note the red spoon, which swiftly transforms to wood
in the next photo. Magic!
Once you're all mixed, add 8 oz of shredded cheddar cheese.  I use pre-shredded for this instead of my usual hand shredded; it's easier and doesn't seem to have any effect. Use your favorite cheese or cheese blend, but note that sharper is better. Blend the cheese into the cream cheese mixture. Once mixed, microwave the cheese for about 20-30 seconds to melt the shredded cheese into the rest a bit and mix again.

Mmmm.... cheese
Form the cheese into a rough ball in the bottom of the bowl, using your spoon to shape it. Wipe down your cutting board and spread out some more pecan chips. I used about another 1/2 cup.  Spoon the cheese out of the bowl and onto the pecan chips, keeping in ball form as much as you can. Lightly flour your hands and shape to cheese into a more distinct ball shape, rolling it in the pecans to completely coat the outside of the ball.

Yes, I got pecans EVERYWHERE.

Place on serving plate and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with your choice of crackers. Enjoy!


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