Friday, December 23, 2016

Pizza Cheese Ball

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa, and happy anything else you celebrate! I hope you are having a fabulous holiday season and I hope very much you are able to spend it with those you love. If you cannot be near your family, then I certainly hope you have lovely friends to spend it with.

Every year, I host a small get together with a few family members and we eat prime rib, boiled potatoes, asparagus, etc. But before we eat that big meal, I have a light lunch with all the Christmas treats I have left after giving out neighbor gifts and what is left of what I have received (thank you, neighbors and friends!). I also set out crudites and other finger foods for snacking so we can focus on playing games and enjoying each other. Well, this year I decided I'd make a cheese ball to set out and so I browsed the worldy-widey-web looking for a recipe. I found this one from Rachel Ray that sounded good, but I am not the kind of cook who follows many recipes exactly. So, I am going to share with you the recipe I came up with for a pizza cheese ball.

Pizza Cheese Ball

1/2 C. (or about 2.5 ounces) Parmesan, romano, asiago three cheese blend from the deli case
1 8oz. brick cream cheese, softened
Green parts from three green onions, snipped finely with scissors
2 T. snipped fresh parsley
Garlic powder
Dried oregano
1/2 C. (about) Bread crumbs
10-15 pepperoni slices, chopped finely
1/2 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and diced

Outer coating:
Melt 1-2 T butter in a sauce pan with about 1/2 t. garlic powder (to start) and about 1/4-1/2 t. salt (if you buy salted butter, you can leave the salt out).
Dump in the bread crumbs, stir to coat in garlic/butter mixture, and toast them, stirring regularly. Taste to make sure you have enough garlic. I ended up sprinkling some in after, but I hadn't measure exactly. I even added a bit of oregano (NOT MUCH!) during this part.

Roasted bell pepper:
I had my oven up to 400* because I was baking some potatoes. I placed by half of a bell pepper, skin side up, in the oven and cooked for about 25-30 minutes (or until the skin bubbles and turns black over most of it). Pull it out of the oven when it's done, cover it, let it sit for about fifteen minutes. This will help the skin get loose and it will make the pepper easier to handle. Once it has been sitting for about fifteen minutes, the skin should peel right off. I then slice it length-wise and then finish dicing it.

Making the cheese ball:
Dump about 1 t. oregano (more or less depending on your preference. I do not love oregano so I did enough to taste it, but not be overwhelmed by it), 1 t. garlic powder (or to taste), a few twists of a pepper grinder, the cheese blend, the pepperoni, the diced red bell pepper (it MUST be roasted), the snipped parsley, the snipped green onion. Stir it all up.

Then, add the softened cream cheese. Stir this all up (it looks so festive!) and taste on a cracker -- add more seasonings if you want. Roll into a ball with clean hands and then roll in the toasted garlic-bread bread crumbs (you could add some of that powdery Parmesan cheese if you wanted) and place on a plate. Chill until it you are ready to serve it! If you find it isn't holding its shape, chill it for a while and then roll it back up again.

Happy eating!!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Add some Christmas whimsy to your children's room

I am so excited for Christmas.  Every year I cannot wait and as soon as Halloween is over, I'm making plans.  I've been pretty busy since I am going to school, but I wanted to make time for some fun things this weekend.  I made some decorations for my kids' room and I think they have the perfect feeling.
This is a simple felt tree. I cut felt squares of four different sizes and stacked them.  I tied a knot in the bottom of some thick embroidery thread and threaded that on a giant needle. Then I added a mini wooden spool and began poking the needle and thread through the felt.  I alternated with little wooden beads and ended with a knot on top.  It took me a few minutes and I made lots of colors.  I did this green one, but then on the garland below I made red, silver (mixing silver sparkle canvas and light gray felt squares), white, and aqua. So easy, and so cute!

Pardon the pictures.  I don't have a super awesome camera, but you get the idea.  I tied lots of funky, bright ribbon around the tops of bright colored ornaments and strong them on some light blue yarn.  I alternated felt trees with the ornaments so there would be lots of texture and fun.

This was super simple.  I took an embroidery hoop and tied three white strings to the inside hoop.  I then nestled that inner hoop in the larger hoop and tightened it.  After that I took pieces of white tulle and tied them around for that fluffy, wintry look.  I tied a knot with the white string and added red embroidery floss down the middle which was tied to funky colored ornaments (these are all shatter-proof) and hung it high up on the ceiling so it wouldn't become a hazard.

The last thing I made was super simple.  I used masking tape to create the shape and lines on a flat wooden circle and then I let my little one help me paint and sprinkle glitter.  For the star at the top, I made a big glop of golden paint and then took the back side of my paintbrush and carefully drew paint from the middle out into spokes.  It took us maybe ten minutes all together.

The colors and decorations I chose are all whimsical and sparkly -- it is so festive and fun and just the thing to get my little ones into the holiday spirit.