Entertaining with Ease… and Cheese!
Every year when November rolls around, I jump for joy because of the upcoming holiday season! To me, there is no better gift than spending time with family and friends, celebrating life and togetherness, making memories and sharing meals! I have to admit that sharing meals has taken on a whole new meaning the last couple of years – I never used to worry about what I would bring to the gathering or even think about planning the meals, but now this is something that’s actually on my mind!
Many people this time of year love to entertain and lavish guests with special fare. But studies show that we want recipes that are tastier, quicker and easier. Serving appetizers like cheese boards and fondue can keep the host/hostess out of the kitchen and mingling with guests. And here’s the added benefit – these dishes not only give the gift of good taste, but also good health!
A cheese board is great because requires no cooking at all. It’s sure to be a hit, takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and showcases the natural beauty of cheese. In preparing a cheese board, I like to follow these simple tips:
- Serve three to five different cheeses
- Vary the cheese in taste, texture and appearance – mild to bold flavors; soft to firm texture; light to dark colors
- To add nutrients and great flavor combinations, pair the cheese with apples, pears, nuts, and whole grain crusty bread
- Display the cheese on a wooden tray or colorful ceramic platter that is large enough to keep the cheese from touching (I like to make mine into fun shapes, for example, in December I’ll make Christmas tree cheese boards).
National Dairy Council’s Cheddar Fondue uses light cheddar cheese and skim milk as the main ingredients, which give the sauce a rich taste, without the fat or high calories. More importantly, dairy provides nine essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, protein and potassium.
And because it’s a sure crowd pleaser, I want to share with you my very own Cheese Ball recipe!
In a medium size bowl:
- Mash 16 ounces of reduced fat cream cheese
- Mix in 1/3 pack of your favorite ranch dressing mix, ¼ cup chopped onions, and ¼ cup cubed ham
- Shape the mixture into two balls and roll balls in ½ cup chopped pecans and ¾ cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
- Refrigerate covered until ready to serve, and serve with whole wheat crackers and raw veggies (my family really likes broccoli and carrots). ENJOY!
‘Tis the season! Enjoy the holidays as much as your guests this year, and make entertaining easier with appetizers that are sure to please. Ahh, the power of cheese!