I’m going to have to admit the early holiday cheer bug has bitten me. I get a little excited when I see holiday decorations for sale, when I see funny ugly Christmas sweaters, and when favorite seasonal produce goes on sale like Brussel sprouts and cranberries.
Which brings me to this weeks post. I have two recipes this week! Both including the most abundant fruit this time of year. Cranberries! First, non-alcoholic cranberry punch, and then a cranberry pecan cheeseball. Two perfect entertaining pieces that are easy and fast to make.
I started making the cranberry punch, mainly because I wanted something fun to drink while I make the cheeseball. Now once again, this recipe is non-alcoholic, for a great reason. My toddler. He will drink and eat everything I do. So I had to set an example. He watched me make it and anxiously waited with a cup in his hands. He took a sip and said “Mmmmh!”. I said “You like it??”, he said “Mhh hmmm” and walks away. That was my toddler stamp of approval. You, of course, can tweak this recipe to add alcohol. Some may add vodka or alcoholic apple cider. What makes this drink fun and decorative is the whole cranberries and orange slices. Be sure to have a ladle to scoop the fruit into glasses.
And for the cranberry cheeseball. It was a little messy to make. I used my favourite Kitchenaid mini food processor. This kitchen device is so handy when it comes to mixing smaller items and batches. It’s great for salsas, cutting up small produce pieces and nuts, and making small batches of frosting. I wouldn’t recommend hand mixing as you really want to mix the cream cheese to a smooth consistency, that would take all day if you did it manually. You could use a large food processor too. Also, make sure you take out the cream cheese out of the fridge an hour before you are ready to make this. It will make mixing a lot easier.
The cheeseball is so addicting, the salted pecans bring a nice contrast to the sweet dried cranberries. But next time I’m definitely going to try using goat cheese instead of cream cheese.
This recipe can be made ahead of time, put in the freezer and used later. You would just need to thaw it out the night before in the refrigerator.
Prep time (punch): 15 minutes
Prep time (cheeseball): 35 minutes
Cranberry Punch Ingredients:
1 bag of fresh whole cranberries
1 Orange sliced into cocktail size
32oz cranberry juice cocktail
1 or 2 liters of ginger ale (your choice to how much ginger taste you want)
2 cups orange juice
1 bottle Martinelli sparkling apple cider (I used their cranberry/apple mix)
- Combine cranberry juice, ginger ale, orange juice and apple cider. Stir and then add the cranberries and orange slice, add ice and serve.
Cranberry Cheeseball Ingredients
1 package (8 oz) of cream cheese warmed at room temperature
8 oz shredded sharp white cheddar ( I used Tillamook Sharp White Cheddar)
1 or 2 tablespoons of milk
½ cup chopped pecans
1 package (5 oz) of dried cranberries
Plastic cling wrap such as Saran wrap (used to form ball)
- Using a food processor, slice cream cheese into chunks and add to food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Add shredded cheese, milk, pecans and half a cup of dried cranberries. Mix until well combined.
- Using the Saran wrap, line into a medium-sized bowl. You will now be forming the cheeseball.
- Scrape the cheese into the bowl. Using the plastic wrap, form the cheese into a ball form and twist the ends together. Place in freezer, and let cool for a minimum of 20 minutes.
- Using the same medium-sized bowl, pour the rest of the cranberries in.
- Remove cheese from freezer, unwrap and place into cranberry filled bowl. Begin by pressing the berries into the cheeseball. Serve immediately with entertaining crackers.