Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mom's Cheeseball

And I mean that in the literal sense, not the corny joke sense. I was forced invited to a Christmas party this year. Now, I'm a good Southern girl and I'm terrified to show up to some one's house without food in hand. Now this was after my two day cookie bake-a-thon, so I wanted something low key and easily snackable. Plus, I don't think the holidays are complete without a cheese ball.

My mom has a trusty recipe that I remember from way back when. Since it only has a few key ingredients that are simple and leave lots of room for playing with additions, I chose that route. Her recipe starts with 8 ounces of cream cheese and half a cup of butter, both softened. I added a bit more. After you mix the crap out of them, I threw in a few tablespoons of powdered ranch dressing then spooned it into a cling-wrap bedecked bowl. Once you've shaped it into a ball (or log, or swan, ect), pop in the refrigerator overnight covered well. And yes, I totally bragged to people how brilliant I was to put it in a round shaped bowl. Shaped and stored without fuss. I'm awesome.

Next day, coat with softened sharp cheddar spread and cover with nuts, bacon bits, jelly-beans, whatever your heart desires. Here's the loveliness after the wolves descended.

My mom says she's got a great recipe from my aunt for another cheese ball. Since I think cheese balls should be a year round thing, I may have to try that soon. Do you guys have any favorites?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Baking 2010!

I thought I wasn't going to do it this year, but of course I have an office to bake for now. Isn't that handy? I made 5 types of cookies along with a few other miscellaneous bits for holiday parties. That I totally went to. Can you believe it? Also, since I'm broke, I tripped the geek fantastic and monetized the cookies. That way you can see how much thought I put into what they cost on a per batch and per cookie basis. Yes.

So let's get this show on the road! I'm going to start with my favorites.

Soft Molasses Cookies

These are ridiculously tasty and my favorite kind of spicy. In a word, perfect. The only thing is that I'd like to figure out how to make them without Crisco, but while maintaining the same softness.


 •3/4 cup shortening

•3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

•1 large egg

•1/2 cup molasses

•2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

•1/4 teaspoon salt

•2 teaspoons baking soda

•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

•1 teaspoon ground ginger

•1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

•granulated sugar for rolling cookies

In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and molassus until well blended.

In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Stir into the creamed mixture until blended. Chill for 1 hour, or until firm.
Heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Shape the dough into small balls about 3/4 inch in diameter; roll in the granulated sugar and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 to 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until set. Cool in pan on a rack for 2 minutes; remove to a rack to cool completely.

It says it makes about 4 dozen cookies, but mine made 18 cookies that were larger than expected.
Batch: $1.36
Cookie: $.075

Cornmeal Cookies with Cranberries

I have no idea why the idea to make cornmeal cookies popped in my head, but apparently the recipes are floating out there. These were surprisingly buttery and rich, yet not overwhelming. I think these would make a decadent cookie with tea. I replaced the raisins in the original recipe with dried cranberries and formed the dough into a log, so I could slice and bake.


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit
In a large bowl, blend butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg and beat well.

In another bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; gradually add to butter mixture. Add vanilla and blend thoroughly. Stir in the optional raisins.

Form dough into ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Roll out dough on well-floured board to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters (2 1/2 inches in diameter) and place 1 inch apart on lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake in 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden. Store in airtight container.

Recipe says this will make around 3 dozen cookies. I made exactly 31, so true to form.
Batch: $ 2.93
Cookie: $.094

The following don't have recipes because I don't think anyone needs to rush out and make them. Not that they're not tasty, but there are better out there.

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I was hoping for something sinfully rich, but these came out crunchy. Call me a soft cookie snob, but nothing tastes as rich in a crunchy cookie as it does in a soft. Plus, these spread much larger than expected. Not that these didn't taste good, but I think I'll try something different for the next time I want chocolate on chocolate.
Batch: $3.68
Cookie: $.136

Oatmeal Cookies

These were good and suprisingly flavorful. I used some cinnamon-spiced cashews I had to fill in for the nut part and didn't add any dried fruit. However, these came out crunchy. Then after they were crunchy, my tiny balls of oatmeal deliciousness were hard as rocks. Luckily, they hardened after everyone had eaten their share.

Batch: $2.53
Cookie: $.07

Stained Glass Window Sugar Cookies

This was my only roll out cookie and I've wanted to make these for a few years. Word to the wise, if you want a pretty, mottled stained glass look, make sure you buy hard candies that are thin enough to smash up. I didn't. Still, they were pretty and I didn't get to have any of these since I made EXACTLY enough. Just looking though, I wasn't impressed.

Batch: $3.27
Cookie: $.156

Is it telling that not only did I figure out cost per cookie, but that I also carried it out to three decimal places?

Yeah. I think it is.