Homemade Food Gifts
Well, it's getting close to that time of year again -- the time when we all start to figure out what holiday gifts we want to give to friends, relatives, neighbors, teachers. I hate waiting until mid-December to think about this because then I end up lunging for overpriced items that I could easily make myself if I weren't in panic mode.
So . . . Christmas in October. It works for me.
This cheese ball made with sun-dried tomatoes (or in my case, dehydrator-dried tomatoes; see tomato glut here) is super simple to put together if you have a food processor. Just four ingredients, whirled together, then shaped in a ball and rolled in toasted chopped nuts. Takes just minutes. And for those who don't like to cook -- there's no cooking involved.
This recipe makes a lot -- three good sized cheese balls, or six 1/2-cup balls for small gifts. Feel free to divide it by three when you're first trying the recipe to see if you like it. No sense in having all those cheese balls lying around.
The recipe comes from this book, Christmas with Southern Living 1993, which contains Christmas decorating ideas, crafts, and recipes. For a while I was on quite a roll, buying Christmas crafts and recipe books year after year. I'm thinking at this point I probably have enough. But they are awfully fun, and full of inspiring pictures, even if all you have time to do is admire the inspiring pictures.
On to the recipe:
CHEESE BALL WITH MARINATED DRIED TOMATOES
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 7-oz jar oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained
1 clove garlic
2 t. dried basil
1/2 c. coarsely chopped pine nuts or almonds, toasted (I use pine nuts; put them in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until they start to turn brown)
Use knife blade in food processor bowl. Add first four ingredients and let the machine chop away. When tomatoes look to be pretty well diced (probably only 20 seconds or so), scrape the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate. (The recipe says to chill for three hours or more, but being the impatient cook that I am, I usually just proceed without chilling. It's a little sticky, but it still works.) Shape into three one-cup balls, or six 1/2-cup balls. Roll in the toasted nuts. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve with crackers.
NOTE: My food processor is really a mini-chopper, so if I'm making the whole recipe, it works best for me to do it in three batches. I've never tried it in a blender, but that might work, too.
I'd love to hear what food items you make for gifts. If you've posted about some of your favorites, feel free to leave a link in your comment. My stomach and I thank you in advance.
ANOTHER NOTE: For more ideas from Works-for-me-Wednesday, go here.